We are drawn to chapbooks in many ways: some we happen upon by chance, browsing catalogs and recognizing a name. Some come recommended by writers whose judgment we trust. Others are literally pressed into our hands: private efforts, small collections self-published and shared among friends.
I knew Maggie Paul in college: we were in the same MFA program at Vermont. I've seen her once or twice since those days, both times at AWP, though I can't recall which cities. At one, she gave me a copy of her chapbook, Stones from the Baskets of Others. I've been re-reading it today. Here are two poems:
He couldn’t turn away
from the sight of the human brain,
that singular universe
glistening in its own juices.
Looking at that wilderness of river and dream
called into question his own sense of divinity,
the radiance he rose into each day.
Here, pointed the docent, is where memory is.
And here resides emotion.
All his life he’d depended on what he couldn’t see—
About the stars, he had the same complaint.
* * *
Like her, he numbered his poems as they spilled out
over the rim of his life, currents always heading
in the direction of Mathilde, in whose hair he saw
stars and vines, whose hands furnished him with
certain dark things to love. His poems
brim with moons, apples, bread, sky.
Like a pomegranate his heart’s center grew
crowded with seeds and stars, which he
sprinkled across his garden as a way
of insisting on beauty, so that now
his voice pulls me into the earth’s core,
the underneath of love, which is more love.
[photo: fern unfurling, 2/24/08]
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