Calenday by Lauren Haldeman
Rescue Press, 2014, $16
Reviewed by Sara McGuirk
Can one measure creation in a handful of days? Measure any outpouring in a handful of words, or whimsies, or worlds? From inside and outside time’s loosening embrace, the certain magic of Haldeman’s Calenday delights us into its pocket of being. These poems ask us to feel the whole weight of what it is to cherish and, so too, to lose what we cherish. “There is still / a wick through the heart / wet with flame. A jar in the cosmos / keeps pouring.” Haldeman’s small, homespun wonders weave for us a measured set of ditties, a delicacy. Her maternal nature is whimsical, heartened, and bouncing at full gallop.
This collection reminds us that, from somewhere, we have come hurdling out of mothers’ bodies into our bodies. In this case, the poet’s body takes on the burden of both the child and of the ghost. Here, time functions as a twinkling prism and as a prison; “you must / learn to fall / into your body over & over again.” The chest of playthings opens and shuts, a mouth pouring glossolalia and the plump, dizzied coos of the born and the bearing. In words, as in gestures, we are each other’s to cradle and to mourn. Here, we are asked to bear the ashes of a brother—ashes that pulse. We too, are asked, “does it take courage just to be alive?” And if so, what does it take to live as treacherously as a child—to reach our hands out endlessly towards wonder?