Ms. Berkovits’ recent chapbook presents a moving chronological memoir in poetry that parallels her own journey from despair to hope and acceptance of her adult son’s tragic hemorrhagic stroke. Some of the poems are meditative; others, cries of anguish–but all capture a mother’s inner struggle with the realities of the imperfections of life.
In “The Benefits of Self-Deception,” Ms. Berkovits ponders the questions:
When man first walked on land
did he look at the sky and say,
one day, we shall all fly like birds?
Did earthlings toiling on land look at the harvest moon and say, Neil
Armstrong’s footprints will be here?
The poem closes with:
I want the impossible to become
I’ll grab the infinitesimal chance
with my teeth and won’t let go.
This closing stanza captures beautifully the underlying current of her book. A reader will sense her undying devotion and love for family that dictate her clawing need for reviewing photos so she can remember the tall, hearty son that once was. (And guiltily wonder what went wrong. Was it the name they gave him?) For here lies a man who is still a son, a husband, and a father to two precious young girls, who still has a mind and a desire to do something with the rest of his life despite being a quadriplegic.
This is a wonderful book for anyone, whether serving as a family caregiver in overwhelming circumstances, or merely needing to be reminded of the temporal nature of what it means to be alive on this earth. Ms. Berkovits’ honesty is soothing. She struggles with all things medical, and sometimes is consumed with inner guilt.
Her struggles bring to mind her intended image of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, Erythra Thalassa, in their quest for freedom and survival. Their odds, like her son’s, initially seem to be insurmountable. In time, a new perspective of life and progress begins to take hold. She takes us from “What’s it like to have no hope?” to “Never say never.” Indeed, hope springs eternal as the reader travels through this incredible life journey with Ms. Berkovits. Who couldn’t use a dose of hope today?