Page 163

North Carolina Miscellany

N C L R ONLINE

163

PHOTOGRAPH BY ALICE OSBORN

to Live with Tinnitus,” could well be the model for the book itself, begging to spill its secrets, peeling (and pealing) itself painfully into song. This section rises toward the book’s final two poems, “Leaving the Vineyard” and “Longing for the Pleiades.” In the former, drinking wine and meditating upon the fact that “A grape that hasn’t suffered / will never give something good,” the speaker remembers her lost child once more, willingly, this time, saying now, “I don’t mind. / Grapes are rolling over / the sympathy of my tongue. / I’m pouring the years into wine.” Had the book ended here, readers who have also endured the deaths of children might find it too pat; but the final poem recalls a long-gone house, the ceiling “papered in stars,” which ignites a journey of memory through star imagery from the poet’s past. The ceiling stars merge into the images of radioactive isotopes onscreen during an unnamed test for disease: “I watched / the galaxies of my heart / gather on a screen, not knowing / what they’d tell.” If the test reveals anything, readers aren’t told; in the final stanza, the lamplight tells nothing, and the speaker concludes in “Longing for the Pleiades” on a question: “If the stars have all gone out, / how long will they take / to let us know?” The poet pours her years and sorrows into the wine of experience and words, but in the end she is reminded again of how little she knows, and how little anything can tell.

The speaker also reflects in “Judgement” on the “faded rag-stitched quilt // of days I’ve lost” as she writes “the poem my life built.” In the third section, the poet’s voice resonates most strongly as she turns her attention more and more to that voice – to her own ability to speak in response to the world’s hardships, fears, and losses, to her voice’s interplay with others and her desire for the skill embodied in “The Chinese Master’s Brush.” In the midst of “let[ting] her mother’s sorrows in” (in “Feckless Rueing”), she both remembers former abundance (in “I Speak to My Son of Old Excesses” and “Happy Hours”) and begins to expand upon the fraught beauties attendant even upon age, change, and deprivation. Like the kintsugi which Copeland evokes to describe her mother in Blue Honey, Wilson’s speaker seems something like a broken vase mended with gold – never unbroken, but no less beautiful for the breaking.

Some of the collection’s most striking poems appear in this section, in which the poet becomes willing to speak of what she has hitherto concealed even as “wounds moan / in the throat of the wind” (“Breaking Old Silences”). She wonders, perhaps wistfully in “To the Friend Whose House Was Destroyed By Lightning,” “how it feels to be released // from all we hold and keep / and what keeps us.” Imaginative empathy and experience allow her to understand the twisted postures of saguaro cacti and show them to us as old women. In “Unwrapping the Mummy,” she washes the stains of lives out of cloth as she unwraps a metaphorical mummy, recognizing that “we make so much of remain.” She experiences tinnitus, in rhymed couplets, as the “Secrets the kettle is begging to spill. / Apples singing as they’re peeled.” This poem, “Tintinnabulations, or How

ABOVE Dede Wilson reading at the

Louisiana native DEDE WILSON is a journalist who now resides in Charlotte, NC. Her previous collections include three from Main Street Rag – Sea of Small Fears (2001), One Nightstand (2004), and Eliza: The New Orleans Years (2010)– and Near Waking (Finishing Line Press, 2013). The poet’s awards include the Main Street Rag Chapbook Competition and the Blumenthal Readers’ and Writers’ competition, and her work has also been published in such venues as Asheville Poetry Review, Carolina Quarterly, Tar River Poetry, Painted Bride Quarterly, and Southern Poetry Review.

Weymouth Center for the North Carolina Poetry Society’s Winter Meeting, Southern Pines, 22 Jan. 2011

Profile for East Carolina University

North Carolina Literary Review Online 2019  

A literary review published online annually by East Carolina University and by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.

North Carolina Literary Review Online 2019  

A literary review published online annually by East Carolina University and by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.

Advertisement