Chapbook Spotlight: Two Poems from Ruth Thompson’s “Crazing”

Contemporary poet Ruth Thompson inspires me with her vision of mature womanhood and life in harmony with nature. I reviewed her previous full-length collection, Woman With Crows, on the blog last year.

The mature and courageous poems in her latest chapbook, Crazing (Saddle Road Press, 2015), teach us to discern the difference between natural and unnatural change. She responds with extraordinary grace and playfulness to the scattering of her mental and physical abilities in old age, the “crazing” of the glaze that gives the vessel its character, the cracks in the body’s shell from which the spirit emerges like a baby chick. At the same time, her embrace of the cycles of nature empassions her to resist alterations that are sudden, irreversible, and a dead end for life on this planet. She mourns not for herself but for lost tree species, droughts, and future generations who may “die thirsty, telling stories of our green shade.” Her acceptance of her personal body’s limitations shows us a humbler, more sustainable way to inhabit the body of Mother Earth.

She has kindly permitted me to share two poems from the chapbook below. (Full disclosure: Ruth previously blurbed my new collection, Bullies in Love.)

Mary Speaks

How relieved I was when it was over.
How easily I vanished from the story.

When it was finished, given over to their
busy hands, I slipped away like a fish.

I bundled myself back on the donkey,
unwound the old stars to show the way.

In the dark of the moon I came home.

Now I pour silica over my shoulders.
In both my palms I feel the shift.

Some men thank the god for dying
and the Mother who made him,

but these men will have no Mother.
No matter. The boy is dead.

Far away the rains begin.
First flood, then riversilt: his flesh.

Body sloughs like a stalk of wheat
lays another spiral in the grain.

Here at the bony heart of things,
I dance the red sun up over the hills.


Losing the Words

Wantons, they’d give themselves to anyone!

See how they slip in and out of one another’s clothes?

See how–dressed in zinnia-colored feathers, giggling–
they settle to the lip like birds, then flicker away?

Oh, they hide behind the roof of my mouth with flashlights,
cast firefly shadows on my stuttering tongue–

dash onto the stage and off, grinning madly–
above them that terrible sign: Exeunt Omnes.

For one day all of them–
all the thousand thousand names of God–

will fall in love. Conjoin. Merge
into the unkempt darkness behind the stars.

They will be gone forever. Then silence
will enter the echoing chambers of my mind.

It will speak its name at last.
I will say Yes.

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