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Apologetic for Joy

Jessica Hiemstra van-der Horst’s Apologetic for Joy, released this year from Gooselane, is savory, to be savored, sweet but not easy. A little achy but not maudlin nor being an “agoniste” (as Richard Lopez put the idea). Take for example, p.18, a poem that I read and reread and enjoy. It is deft of words but it has a deep structure of understanding, of pondering. It gets to the nature of things and does so plainly, yet complexly, not patly.

Anatomy for the Artist (Light, Study III)

Fresh paint can only be touched by air
and light, shadow. That’s how we should 
touch, without consuming. I can’t believe
I told you, I want to own you. I meant to say
I need to watch you bend, listen to your feet
on the cold floor,
fine hairs
dragged across the blue.

It is what poetry is good for, expressing what never fits into conversation, tenderness whose moment rarely comes and yet can’t be forced. It’s got fondness and regret, excruciating mindfulness of beauty.

Even by time and air and light, things change without tangible contact yet there is the effect of impact. A love like watching paint dry, slow and unstoppable and the perfect kind of metaphor for shiny fragility and transitory stages.

It’s rare that so early in a book I decide I want to read slowly so it doesn’t end too soon, even knowing I’ll reread.

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