Simon’s debut book of poems explores the reaches of spirituality in everyday moments.
The natural world inspires spiritual connections in this collection, from the opening poem’s shaping of morning and night to the pattern of a human life to “An Aspen Grove,” in which the trees, “nocturnal nomads,” tremble with energy. Trees sing and call to one another, a single violet symbolizes the mystery and beauty of love, and picnickers search for signs of eagles in the afternoon sky. A meditative stillness marks the nature scenes, and the poet uses simple observation to find ways in which mind and body overlap. Landscapes and wild creatures appear without instructive commentary, allowed to exist in their own potent, portentous forms. Still, the lyrics have a light touch—an effect partially achieved through brevity. In “Impermanence,” for example, just 13 lines create a layered impression of human limits: people change as the leaves change, as the clouds change, and they “tumble as weeds, / bend as willows,” gathering for comfort and company. Lightness is also evident in the choice of subject matter, whether it’s an ode to transitory wind or an appreciation of a severe thunderstorm that threatens, breaks, and then departs as quickly as it came. The poet also tracks movements of the mind, forging a powerful lyric enactment of meditation. A handful of anti-war poems punctuate the book, and occasional references to early childhood round out the edges. Although love infuses the speakers’ generous spirit, traditional love poems comprise only a fraction of the collection—adding a point to the book’s originality. Music inspires some of the most personal reflections and imagery, as in a description of a bandoneón, a concertina related to the accordion, which “pours out / milk and cream, coaxing me back / to mother’s arms,” and in a four-part poem on the tango, with one of the dancers moving “like a red Corvette.”
A spare volume of heartening, reflective insight.