Diehl’s debut poetry collection showcases the arduous search for human connection and self-understanding.
In free verse poems that combine strong metaphors with prosaic passages, the poet wanders along a lifelong path of self-knowledge. She first describes it as a “pilgrimage…to accept what’s been deemed unworthy inside us,” and the trail leads to important insights. In a plainly stated yet necessary reminder, the author asserts that being human, despite the loneliness one may encounter, “is not a solitary pursuit.” Above all else, the book voices a desire for transparency in the self and in others. In “Clear Stream,” moving water illuminates objects within it, even as mystery waits at the bottom, and the water’s clarity corresponds to the speaker’s offering of his- or herself to view: “Here I am. // Come see me if you want.” Sometimes the tumble of words in these short stanzas suggests a pouring forth of injury: “It’s the show-stopping blow of loss upending a heart pain over pain till capacity for love regulates its beating.” Readers will understand a back story involving love and loss, difficulty in communication, sadness, and acceptance of children growing up. The poems gain strength from well-chosen accompanying images, including sketches and paintings by Dimenichi and colorful works by Jamaican-born painter Powell that enrich the verbal landscape. Several full-page images by each artist appear, suggesting a thematic connection or amplifying an emotion in a given poem. A richly textured, grand illustration of a tree by Dimenichi, for example, appears alongside a poem that celebrates the inspiration of such towering entities. A poem concerned with self-reflection joins a Powell painting of floating, twinned female forms. The figures seem to both depict and satisfy the speaker’s need to be seen, with their emphasis on mirror images, body doubles, and echoes of shapes. Even the windshield of a car can be a “two way mirror” behind which the driver is “invisible to life outside.” An explicitly female body is glimpsed in the sketches, and the warm, dreamlike compositions give it substance.
Poems and images that ask readers to appreciate a searching body for its beauty and grace.