“My friends, I send you this letter from the landscape of our years together / You must not wonder if I think of you still — / I have remained steadfast here / I have remembered you wholly into this day” writes poet Maggie Anderson in the title poem from her most recent collection Dear All, a poetic letter to the lost of her own life and generation and to the lives of the larger world in these days of endless war. Wry, canny, and sometimes surreal, this is the singular and mature work of a poet who, from her earliest poems, has been engaged in the vital work of remembering and retrieval. As she says in “Fear of Farms”, “Who else would plough this land? / Who, if not I, will do all this?” It is a book of moral urgency that eradicates the differences between private and public lives as it uncovers memory’s distortions and inaccuracies. Intellectually alert and emotionally honest, Maggie Anderson negotiates the perceptions and self-deceptions we live with and, through both humor and surprise, finds a way to bear them.
“How the Brain Works,” from Dear All,:
Like a peony. Full white blossoms,
heavy and damp with the scurrying
of insects. From this comes language:
Morning sun. Afternoon shower. This, that.
It gathers to fit in open palms, heart shape
that wants to carry one flower as far
as it has to, as fast as it’s able, to the dark
oak table, the red cut-glass bowl.
The ants will drop and crawl to the windowsill.
Soft petals will brown and slime,
fall down to re-enter the earth.
And the brain says, happy.
The brain says, do over, do over.