The books for the 2010 Suggested are starting to arrive and since I have no self control, or sense of order, I have already read one, Angel Riding a Beast by Liliana Ursu. Many thanks to Liza for recommending her! The suggested list is working out well.
I'm not much for explicating a poet's work. I'd rather just present it. However, I will say this: I greatly enjoyed the personalness of Ursu's work in the midst of a larger world view. Apricots, icons, the cosmos, and her own presence seem to be in balance. Nothing overwhelms; everything participates in the picture of the whole. Ursu writes as a poet in exile, and thus her self-ness cannot take control.
And so here is a poem from the book that I greatly enjoyed.
Playing with the Mirror
by Liliana Ursu
I play with the mirror.
I do not set ships on fire, nor your hair,
fluttering free on another continent.
In my small mirror I try to capture
not my face, red after love,
nor the sad eyes of the icon
in my deserted house in Bucharest.
Here, in America,
my mirror reflects only a stranger.
Mirror, mirror, on the wall
who's the fairest of them all?
"The Moon above Agapia monastery"
the mirror replies . . .
One day someone will hold this same mirror
close to my mouth
to see if I'm alive.
From my last breath
the Carapathian mountains will come,
and the sea at Sulina;
my poems of gold will come
and my poems of clay,
and my young mother
giving birth to me
into blinding July light
into the medieval walls of Sibiu,
and I, giving birth to my own son, roses
buried under the snow.
My greedy lips will touch the mirror
as if in a last, earthly kiss,
an exercise of sadness, tragic and comic
in the innocence of the moment of my death.
I will taste apricots on my lips
which only dew from my mother's garden will cool.
I will feel on my lips
the words of my grandmother:
"Do not pick all of the fruit.
Leave some for winter's birds."
A Breugelian landscape rests quietly in my lap
like a spoiled cat,
while the mirror performs its duty,
and the TV set blares on and on
and I hear strange voices
announce from Venus:
"We have managed to make bread."
Someone in the cosmos
holds up a huge mirror
to see if we are alive.