Poems that Celebrate
Love, Life, the Spectacular, and the Regular
To read Yellow Swing, the new collection of poems by Rosalind Brackenbury, is to spend time in the company of the poet, in the England of her childhood and the tropics of her later years, and many places in betweenhotel rooms, cafes, museums, studios, doomed olive groves, and the streets of Marseilles.
The book begins with a quote by Kate Llewellyn: It is the hold and release that makes the hammock swing. And much of this book is about just that: the way two people come together, drift apart and come together again. This is the movement of the tides, strong and sensual. In the first part of the book, where we find rocking boats, porch swings, minnows that part but dont depart. There is comfort in the mundane (Jupiter Rising) and beauty in danger (Shark, Portuguese men OWar), tropical magical realism (Different Gravity, Life Works), and relationships strengthened by distances and differences (Salt, Hair Cut).
Part II is about family and childhood, parents and siblings, and about how we grow and learn. Its introduced with a mother waiting for her (grown) child to arrive but moves to a daughter of aging parents and then back into girlhood, where we see the same mother as strong and dependable. Were reminded that her body is flawed (that first shows up in The Church Path and comes to maturity in Teaching Me, which is about the inevitable death ahead). The poet learns from her father, too, about nature; and what is learned about nature (daisies, ammonites, blackberries) is really lessons about humanity.
Part III is about scenes and relationships of adulthood. This is a romantic section, about new relationships, sensual abandon, erotic experiences. This section also celebrates the joy of welcoming a new baby, another way of sharing a bed with somebody.
Part IV is about dealing with the world as it is, not always a happy chore. Its About Oil is subtly but strongly political, and The Times We Live In is fierce and furious. In the end, we deal with the truth, whether its found in wine or strawberries. The truth is what we are, because we are: sensual animals, poets, lovers, family members, together, apart....
Rosalind Brackenbury grew up in England and now lives in Key West, Florida. She has published many books on both sides of the Atlantic, including four books with Daniel & Daniel. Her most recent novel is The House in Morocco, published by Toby Press.