As the title suggests, this is not your typical foray into the realm of church and saints. It opens with a prose poem introducing an unlikely preacher, then jaunts out on a far reaching tour, finding in each place a moment or two so striking, a few well chosen words fill the page. Don’s vivid account of Haitian mothers’ preparation of sun baked dirt cookies, the only thing they have to feed their children is heart wrenching. “Where are the / guardian angels / to prevent this?” he asks, not as an accusation but as a plea. So it seems fitting this book came out in 2013, the same year the papacy changed. This new Pope, Francis, might well admire the work this book wrestles with. The community of it. How it offers finely crafted moments to both English and Spanish speakers, how it champions the poor, the weary, downtrodden, how it offers a few glimmers of love in a largely dark, moonless sky. The book revisits the unlikely preacher in the final poem, explaining how the list of
his good deeds grew long, and then, after his passing, “they began to forget. And finally the did.” While good deeds may be forgotten, the voice here will stay with you like a good friend.
Whatever tools we have we will employ to preserve our memories, the poem among the best of mediums, especially in the graceful hands of Cindy Hunter Morgan. There is no doubt the poems in this chapbook are born of the purist memories – and memory is a fickle motion, that, once stored away, is only fresh once whether it sits for days or decades. After that, it must be repackaged, becomes a memory of a memory and soon, distortion warps it sideways. So when a memory is extra-precious, it is sad to recall it knowing it will never be so sharp again. Thus art. Thus Apple Season.
At first touch, this little book is immediately personal, loved, a hand-made treasure chest. Inside, the poems weave a container as ethereal as any thought, but as reliable as any equation. There is no chance these poems will give out under the weight they carry in memory. So potent are these poems, Apple Season goes beyond the physical weather – each poem in this collection is its own apple and the season is eternal for the reader.
“Hay Season” (p. 15) first appeared in the July 2011 issue of The Michigan Poet . Since then, Cindy Hunter Morgan’s poems have charmed us again and again. It’s with great pleasure I offer this review of her superb work.
This is a full spectrum collection – complete in color, tone, speed, and emotion. As vibrant as fresh blood on snow, as soft as a pine forest floor under foot, as loving as body heat on a cold night, Dombrowski’s poems gather the earth’s beauty, wicked or otherwise and binds that beauty with words strong enough to hold it together. Love poems abound despite the hunted and shot truths. Solemn jokes echo death. Sex and babies and crying. Words unbattered in their old age. Chris is a survivalist poet, one who takes up pack, rod, knife, and knowledge, delivers us from unintentional evils, builds for us a fire mirror, and asks us if we should love to recall our shortcomings and revel in our potential.