The Foundling Wheel
by Blas Falconer
Centered on the adoption of Blas Falconer's son, The Foundling
Wheel creates an emotional mosaic that explores the decision to become a
parent. In "The Annunciation," Falconer imagines Gabriel's visitation: "Faith,
he might have said, / as the cells of disbelief began to multiply: a son/ who'd
face great pain? Certain death?" The book begins as the desire to have a child
is first realized, and while it certainly rejoices in the bond between father
and son—"my body, tuned / to hear you cry before you cry, stirs"—it
also grapples with fears that accompany parenthood, loss of the former self,
and the transformation from manhood into fatherhood.
In the title poem, Falconer writes, “They swept the river, caught the dead / in nets. Then a wheel with a box / let someone leave a child / for those who might best care for him,” in reference to the revolving platform first utilized in the 12th century that allowed a woman to anonymously give up her child. In these poems, the figurative turn of the foundling wheel brings the child to the speaker and his partner, altering their identities. The mother, too, is present as a tender, haunting figure: “The one who set her son adrift/ must have stood among the reeds/ for as long as she could,” Falconer writes, and, “There is no word / for the way your mother touched you.” Moving between received forms, free-verse, and prose, these poems wrestle with the weight of parenthood in an often unforgiving world, seeking moments of kindness and grace, when “Every face becomes strange, less human, / more beautiful.”
"The pastoral is the lyric of a landscape. Blas Falconer's landscapes—and the people he places in them—elevate the pastoral to a level where the music has the force of an idea, in a language at once symbolic and probic. His 'Field Marks
for Birds,' his 'Warm Day in Winter,' his 'Bluffs of Pico Duarte' become interiors of association and moral conviction, and the book they appear in, The Foundling Wheel, a force in itself."
“The Foundling Wheel is a book of homecoming, a journey whose
course follows flickering signs and thrilling undercurrents to arrive at a
joy 'without likeness or memory.' Inclusive, spare, intimate, wily, and precise, the
poems in Blas Falconer's second collection fulfill their author's opening vow: 'to cut
the fruit and not think / of the heart, to think of it and not flinch / or flinch and cut
through its core all the same.' In facing 'all fair and foul, lush and bare,' Falconer turns
survival and surrender into bittersweet sources of praise.”
This yard is sacred. My son
reaches into the sky and cups the moon to his mouth.
When I close my eyes, the color makes
me think of his blanket, the great cosmos.
Before the Big Bang, the void ate light,
matter, time—there was no limit to that hunger.
Turned under the streetlamp, the rock's bright specks
look infinite. In a multiverse, he is here,
holding his small hand to his face, and he
is not here. Beyond one edge, a new world
imagines itself expanding in air.
We lean back in the damp grass. The leap
is cold and dark. The lungs open and open again.
about the author
Falconer is the author of A Question of Gravity and Light and a coeditor of
two essay collections, The Other Latino: Writing Against a Singular Identity
and Mentor and Muse: Essays from Poets to Poets. The recipient of an
NEA Fellowship, the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange and a Tennessee Individual
Artist Grant, his poems have appeared in various literary journals, including
Crab Orchard Review, Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, and Puerto
del Sol. He is the Coordinator for the Creative Writing Program at Austin
Peay State University and the poetry editor at Zone 3 Journal / Zone 3 Press.
photo: Bethany Ann Stuart