“Attentive to the Grace of the Ordinary”
A Review of
Harvesting Fog: Poems
by Luci Shaw.
Reviewed by Jennifer Merri Parker.
Harvesting Fog: Poems.
Paperback: Pinyon Publishing, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]
At a recent literary festival I had the privilege of hearing Luci Shaw read from her lately published collection of poems, Harvesting Fog. Shortly afterward, standing near a table where she was signing copies of her books, I overheard an admirer’s brief exchange with the warm and personable poet, who had just thanked her for attending the reading. “Thank you,” the young woman replied, her voice full of emotion, “for helping us to see.” It was an appropriate expression of gratitude, I thought, towards a writer whose singular giftedness involves prodigious attention to the minute, mundane, and easily overlooked details, and the ability to discover unexpected meaning, even deep spiritual significance, in them all. The effect is awe-inspiring to those of us unused to straddling that fault line where the mundane and the mysterious bump and jostle one another and occasionally overlap.
However, as Shaw herself would probably insist, the poet lives on that line or—at least—goes there habitually. A poet’s work, as she describes it, is to keep “a foot in both the concrete, visible world and the ephemeral, invisible world, translating the experience of a spiritual realm into word pictures in order to bring a whiff of heaven to earth” (3). What Shaw sees from this vantage is what she shares with her readers, the everyday revelations of glory and grace in even the most ordinary moments of human experience. In Harvesting Fog, she offers a collection of such moments, rendered in beautifully resonant language, articulating the sacredness and significance of life in a world at once beautiful and broken.
I have always welcomed the perennials
but today I celebrate weeds. The arrival of
horse-tails, their primitive vigor thrusting up
under the fence as if the Third Day of Creation
were just yesterday. In penance, as redemption,
I will begin to touch the earth more lightly,
remembering to walk barefoot in the soft
forest so that I make no bruit or break…
(40, “Gardener’s Remorse”)