Still life Without Pomegranate by Heather Banks
Eyrie Heath Press. ©2008; 28 pgs.
A Review by Sabine Pascarelli
After having closed the chapbook (and first publication) of Heather Banks “Still Life Without Pomegranate”, I feel like after an excellent glass of wine: all senses awake, a round after-taste, and the wish of more of it.
Aware of the values of peace, contentment and insight, Banks has created a collage of images that make her life. Everything she writes about is familiar to the reader. Seen through her eyes, simple actions like swimming in a pool, the vision of her mother quilting on winter evenings, the sight of a squirrel, a sycamore, peonies, gain depth and significance which they did not have before we opened this small precious volume.
In mere admiration we learn, that rats can be an unexpected, considerable subject for a poem, on another page we are introduced to her friends, keeping gerbils, and we may notice that many of her themes are “touchable”, as touch is essential to the knowing of being alive.
Without pointing her finger Heather Banks reminds us how everything in this world, every creature, every object, every thought, is connected and intertwined with each other and has the same identical value. There is no regret, no bitterness in describing the various matters of life; the poems bring the reader, without even noticing, to approach his/her own emotions through the lens of impartiality. This is made possible through the magic of poetry, excellently mastered by this surprising, emerging poet.
Each of Heather Bank’s poems is a praise, a hymn to life, and shines “like light through cracks in walls” (last line of her poem Seaside Spring). Without diminishing the burden of sorrow and pain weighing on us, as written in the poem Testament: … “the end of caring / and not being cared for. … The end of not sharing, … of Dying on the inside. / Suicide”.
What else can I say, except expressing hope to see her next full-length book of poems on the book shelves of my book store. I offer two poems from Still Life Without Pomegranate:
CENTERING pg. 6
This is the way a dome is built –
Carpentering arches, height over width,
Moving through a circle complete,
Idea before reality,
Bracing in compression and tension,
As a surface is built against the thrusts,
Brick laid on brick, stone mortared to stone,
Distributes forces, balancing,
Countering one against the other
Till form is perfected, buttressed within, without
Against all weathers.
Then, though the structure is removed,
The dome stands, pressures composed,
Never static, resolved to dynamic unity,
An oculus left open to the sky,
A ring of light that enters
Moving daily across, compassing the floor
And lighting all within.
Here in this room, upon this bed
We’ve centered ourselves,
Raised a dome
Built to shelter our inner lives
Against the stresses that lie ahead.
HAYING pg. 9
Reaching our deep, exquisite splendor
I hear the children sighing, mowing
Singly their distant pastures of sleep.
Having passed their innocence, now harvesting delight,
We hay our fields together,
Sowing and reaping love’s green ferment,
Piling the heavy wildness that grows between us,
Ripening to stacks of gold the grain that nourishes.
We pile our sheaves up, one upon the other.
Children, you too, shall gather in this bounty,
Come into this brilliance whence you were made.
Sabine Pascarelli is a poet and translator of poetry in English, Italian and German. She translated the 2008 National Award winning Bordighera book. She lives near Florence with her husband and sons.