These collected verses address matters of nature, faith, time, and love.
Several themes stand out among the nearly 100 verses, mostly short, in Brazwell’s debut collection. Images from nature appear in most of the selections, often connected to the speaker’s faith or strong emotions. Raindrops and tears, or raindrops as angel tears, appear frequently: in “Across Texas,” “Angel tears are falling across Texas / Tears of joy are covering the plains.” Grateful tears find expression here as much as those of sorrow, and hope usually tempers melancholy emotions. For example, in “Summer Dies,” a willow weeps “lonely tears,” but the verse ends by affirming connections between the willow and the creatures for whom it weeps. Brazwell also draws on autumnal images, including falling leaves, to convey a blended sense of loss and beauty. The speaker describes the freedom of his boyhood, swinging on the tree “out into space / And back to earth.” Neither he nor the tree can fully defy gravity and time, but the tree’s steadfastness in old age is a lesson in unbowed strength: its golden autumn leaves are not a sign of diminishment but a royal crown. Portraits of childhood also offer memorable images, though readers will be surprised and/or put off by verses like “The Remedy Tree,” which perhaps idealizes cutting switches for beating children. At their best, Brazwell’s offerings make an impression with original metaphors, such as a tree after an ice storm: “The streetlights reflect off you / As if you were some high-priced chandelier.” The last phrase effectively conjures the speaker’s humility and sense of wonder; he doesn’t mind depicting himself as an admiring commoner in the mansion of nature, a charming stance. Less effective, however, are clichés such as “memory lane” (twice); “good old days”; “nature’s choir” (twice); and “the test of time,” as well as twee ruminations like “When I see butterflies fluttering in a meadow / I think of angels playing in the clouds of heaven.”
More characterized by sentimentality than strength.