Reckoning is one long poem in search of itself, its own meaning. A synecdoche of verse, segments calling and responding to each other, like jazz musicians riffing back and forth in a late-night smokey speakeasy. Snippets of conversation make it through the air, across the space that seems vast even in its closeness. We are big, we are small, there is eternity in a birdcall. This is end times, yet beginnings surround us. They are there in memory, in grief, in happiness and in song.
Here is a master poet taking stock in later years. Adrift and grounded, lost in memories that are alive in the present and also lost to history, the artist's mind cannot help but speculate and wonder about the navigation of it all. How does one chart the course? How did one chart the course? And what was discovered along the way? Joy, awe, grief, loss, wonder . . . "disappearing into the mind of the dream, / that opening," and now all rolled into one ball of what, wisdom?
"what was my early life, banging away at that padlocked gate?
. . .
is this where
the return begins? starting over in old age, body
falling apart according to plan, and no blossoming
wisdom, kneeling on the muddy riverbank, thirsty
once again for mind,
. . .
the brain falters the stories skew once more into
something unfamiliar, something from long before
you, and those pieces won't be put together again,
not ever, will they?"
What connects us with the past? Memory and story. Each fragment a part of the whole. Without it we exist in isolation. Friesen's deep and careful observations make Reckoning both intensely personal and universal.
About this Author
Patrick Friesen has published more than a dozen books of poetry, a book of essays, stage and radio plays, and has co-translated, with Per Brask, five books of Danish poetry, including Frayed Opus for Strings & Wind Instruments by Ulrikka Gernes. Most recently he has released the collaborative CD, Buson's Bell, with Niko Friesen, and Outlasting the Weather: Selected & New Poems, 1994-2020, published by Anvil Press.
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