Rosehip Plum Cherry



Michael Daly

Rosehip Plum Cherry

Woodworks Press, Seattle

Paperback chapbook, 5 1/2 by 7 inches, 32 pages, $9

The geography of our imagination extends way back, through love and dread and across kinship, to places we remember only during sleep. Michael Daly’s new collection of poetry is a vehicle for traveling there, and through the windows of his words we can view our own hidden landscapes.

Daly peoples these poems with nearly mythological characters whose words and actions defy the challenges of daylight and common sense. We all have such denizens in our memory, and they visit us sometimes in quiet moments, to repeat their words and to once again play their roles.

Like fellow travelers in all-night conversations lit by dashlights or campfire, these poems speak to us in rambling associations. Or to borrow from "On Air," in which the protagonist has hopped a freight train to chase (or escape) memories of his heroes, and finds himself in the company of hoboes:

Story coupled to story

rattling through a tunnel and back out,

he talked through the clash of steel and echo,

no one following, his white beard floating the tilth of moon.

And the images! Images in "At a Graveyard in Dorchester, Massachusetts," lead us back to small moments of childhood. Daly recalls, for example, a family friend telling him of hell and purgatory. The memory brings back to him what he saw during the telling, and in turn we see not only a closeup of worn pavement, but also a small boy staring down at the pavement, perhaps reluctant to hear of such tortures.

On Annabel Street,

the morning of my ninth birthday

pours into pits loose stones escaped.

We tour Daly’s musings by means of a handmade letterpress chapbook, pleasing to the eye and the hand. And publisher Paul Hunter has decorated the work with three of his woodcuts, each deserving of a frame and spotlight.

Finally, in "Silhouette," Daly hauls us back into the daylight of present time to show his wife and son, with a banjo and a mandolin, and himself, "in our skiff on January’s moon" paddling along in a world where rationality sometimes slips away and heroes fall, but people, and relationships, endure.

—Thomas Hubbard


Copyright © 2003 Thomas Hubbard.  All Rights Reserved.

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