As Light Transcends Darkness, Life Transcends Death

In recent poetry collections Jeanne Lohmann has demonstrated a strong and sensitive response to death, a subject that matters to each of us, and one that concerns many poets. Lohmann's focus on death as a presence in life may be traced, perhaps, to the loss of her husband, Hank, who died of brain cancer in the 1980's. From that experience of care-giving and loss came her important volume of prose, Gathering a Life, which was followed by two collections of poetry, Granite Under Water and Flying Horses, both of which deal honestly with the subjects of grieving and widowhood.
In her new collection of poetry, The Light of Invisible Bodies, Lohmann continues to explore these themes. Here, even more than in her previous books, she transcends grief with fresh understanding and luminous poetry. The call of the past is understood in the light of the present. And in the present Lohmann clearly makes the most of life, both sensual and reflective.
In The Light of Invisible Bodies it appears that death is present and patiently waiting, while the poet continues to get the best out of the last light. Lohmann is taught repeatedly by nature how to accept the future, but to be patient about it. Patience is a constant virtue and a repeating theme. So is acceptance. So is celebration.
The poet's use of light is remarkable, whether it's thrown across a landscape or serves as a metaphor for transcendence. Primarily a nature poet in many of these poems, she celebrates the process of life, both animal and plant, in all seasons and times of day.  She also takes time with human history—the tragedies of Manzanar, the Holocaust, and the bombing of the Twin Towers. And her section on traveling in Italy is rich with human culture. But the poems return again and again to the natural world and the balance between joy in the moment and the lure of the future.
Jeanne Lohmann, whose poems have appeared in numerous literary magazines and anthologies, is a graduate of the creative writing program at San Frandcisco State University. She lives and writes in Olympia, Washington.

The Light of Invisible Bodies
by Jeanne Lohmann
96 pages, paperback, $12.00
ISBN 1-56474-426-4

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