My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Nothing is wasted on Diane Tucker. From the lyrics of an Arlo Guthrie song to a dull November day, a wait for the bus to the sounds of someone bathing in the next room—it’s all poem material, and woven into her Bright Scarves of Hours collection (Palimpsest Press, 2007). I met Diane at Write! Vancouver where we swapped poetry books. I’m sure I got the better end of that deal.
Tucker’s 84-page, 56-poem collection is divided into hours of the day, nine sections beginning with “9 A.M. Drop the children off at school” and ending with “7 P.M. Go out. Come home.” I had favorites in each section, from “Yellow Vinyl 1972” where the 1970s Arlo Guthrie lyric “Good mornin’ America how are ya? has the little girl thinking about Daddy who “… is somewhere in his truck in America” (p. 12), to “sleep” where sleep ensnares and holds us under its watery surface:
“Dreams are the mer-people ….
They let you believe, while you are here, that you are one of them, and that your legs, awkward as peeled sticks, will never return…” (p.75).
I love how many of these poems illuminate ordinary things:
– the fine line between summer and fall – “summer’s end” and “august 30.”
– the memories of summer in November – “november 28: in the shower.”
– the significance of rain – “rain reunion.”
– the way a church organist’s hands embody art and worship – “praying for the organist.”
– a boy and his dog playing outside on a bleak November day – “vacant lot, november.”
Several poems were memorable to me for their strong voice. “door” for example, begins:
“Stop being that brilliant door.I hate every golden inch
of the scented wood of which you’re made” (p. 29).
And here’s a bit of “going” which begins:
“Stars, I let you go.
Don’t stand in formation for me.
Retire below the horizon.
“if you know what’s good for us
what’s good at all, run the other way” (p. 41).
But probably my favorite of the favorites are the poems full of the grace of compassion. Like “legit” where Tucker asks,
“What makes a kid legit?”
“Breath I figure ….
Even before breath we qualified,
all of us swimming in the same sea” (p. 49).
and “no ugly people”:
“… this planet is peopled
with perfectly kiss-sized chins
a world of solid jaws waiting
to be cupped, enfolded
between two hands …
….in every square inch of us
beauty to stop your breath” p. 45.
With fresh language and surprising twists Tucker weaves, or should I say knits, magic through every scarf of every hour, onto every page.
I hope she puts out another book soon, although I hear she’s been busy writing plays—has one about to hit the stage this winter. I guess “the failed actress” who
“… is a decorated papier mache girl
a hot piñata full of candy …”
“… spill her sweet guts out and see
them scrabble on the ground for bits of her”
after all (from “failed actress,” p. 16).
Read some of Diane’s poems online (none of these poems is in the book):