By Marybeth Holleman. Red Hen Press, 2022.
tender gravity charts Marybeth Holleman’s quest for relationship to the more-than-human world, navigating her childhood in North Carolina to her life in Alaska, with deep time in remote land and seascapes. Always the focus is on what can be found by attention to the world beyond her own human skin, what can be found there as she negotiates loss—the loss of beloved places, wild beings, her younger brother. “do not think,” she says to her mother, “that i love a bear more than my brother. / think instead that i cannot distinguish / the variations in / the beat of a heart.” Inevitably, solace is found in the wild world: “step back toward that joy-sap rising, step back / into the only world that is.” In a narrative arc of seeking, falling, and finding, we hear in Holleman’s exquisitely attentive immersion clear reverberations of Mary Oliver, of Linda Hogan, of Walt Whitman. These poems of grief and celebration pulse in and out, reaching to the familiar moon and out to orphan stars of distant galaxies, then pull close to a small brown seabird and an on-the-knees view of a tiny bog plant.