Today's book of poetry: day moon rising. Terry Ann Carter. Black Moss Press, Windsor, Ontario, 2012.
This is Carter's fifth book of poems and Terry Ann Carter puts her money where her mouth is and her heart on her sleeve in this touching book of poems.
Constructed in equal measure from both haiku and free verse poems that compliment each other. Carter never lets style or structure dictate content but clearly has an agenda in mind as she gives voice to a part of the world she has come to love.
Carter is closely associated with the Tabitha Foundation for humanitarian work and these poems reflect those concerns. But the poetry is never a forced polemic, there is no proselytizing here.
Where Does What Matters, Begin:
Three blocks from the Golden Gate Hotel.
No. 239, Street 51. Headquarters of Janne
Ritskes. Founder of Tabitha. Leader. Mother.
In her second story outdoor office we are
points of a mandala. Intent in our listening
the sun sears our eyes. A canvas cloth
raises and lowers according to the hour.
Janne's orientation speech: the KR bloody takeover,
Vong' story, a girl at the time of invasion
if only I could have kept the babies alive, Janne,
I am bad, I am bad.
She knows this talk by heart. It is her heart.
I look past Janne's shoulder, past the shoulders
of women seated on the cement floor, AIDS
patients from the city, quilting blocks of yellow,
blue, bits of cotton from the exchange bin.
Khmer chatter flies in all directions.
I'm aware of my adult children here,
seated in the circle, the cloudless Cambodian sky
hovering over us, aware of the shy teenaged girl
I used to be, listening to Bob Dylan, believing in karma,
never knowing where it would take me.
Where does what matters, begin?
I see my life come shining
from the west down to the east.
I close my eyes, holding it all in.
My children. The circle. The talk. The sky.
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released. On my deathbed
it will be the last moment I see.
Terry Ann Carter sees Cambodia as both home to transcendent beauty and with a recent history of unbearably inhuman conduct. Her poems are a celebration of the best intentions of those who struggle to rebuild decency along with a nation.
The particulars of evil as they apply to Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge haunt that part of the world and these pages. That Terry Ann Carter finds beauty...
"the falling flower
I saw drift back to the branch
was a butterfly"
...is no surprise, Carter is looking for it. These poems are about building something better in the world, somewhere better, a place called hope.