Anne Leigh Parrish’s first anthology, entitled the moon won’t be dared, is a beautiful collection of ponderings, noticings, and recollections from our ever changing modern world. The poet dispenses with conventions such as capital letters, allowing her words to flow like a river over pebbles of insight. In one poem, a voice wonders,
how came the river to curve like this
back, forth, back again…
the slow side-to-side of a woman’s hips…
the memory of an earlier dance
before the planet warmed, or cooled…
She is not an environmental poet exploring connections between people’s behavior and outcomes on the earth, but rather a keen observer questioning and struggling to make sense of things while examining both humanity and nature deeply.
Whether it’s images of assault such as fires and floods on nature or women, Parrish’s poems neither lecture nor sugar coat—they reveal truths, sensibilities, for the reader to consider. In her poem “that night” the speaker reveals that “you wanted me awake, yet helpless/still wondering how you doctored my drink…”
In this poem, a woman finds herself bound, gagged, and left in the dirt, later wondering
…how you could have left me on that soft patch
of grass for the roaming dog to find
why you needed to steal what i’d have given freely
A similar violence shows up in “the legend girl,” which ends, “why did they make her dirt/when she sparkled like a jewel?”
A reader will find sufficient places where the harsher, Plath-like darkness is set aside and a bold strength and wisdom emerge. In “sing out our name” Parrish writes, “…the stars honor us–/what we have always been and always will be/they sing out our name.”
In “love’s needle” and “beetle,” the spirit of love, beauty in nature, and positivity appear again. Then “the river” returns to the page, this time with the message,
ride, then name the river that runs
through your life
carry no grief for the passing years
time does its job, as do you….
and when it slows a bit and lets you
drift, calm in its quiet lilt,
rejoice in this moment
Here, a reader may pause and inhale all that is right with the world. Parrish’s words deftly take us there in the manner of the skillful poet that she reveals herself to be.
My personal favorite, a poem entitled “holding on,” uses a rain drop about to fall from a cloud as a metaphor for climactic moments. She writes:
be careful, though, of this enticing metaphor
not everything is about build up and release
maybe more is about day-to-day travails
holding on, standing by, showing up
and refusing to let go.
Indeed, many readers will second this interesting bit of wisdom.
Anne Leigh Parrish’s anthology uncovers voices that demonstrate resiliency, something that is refreshing to find in modern free verse poetry. Lydia Selk’s incredible analog collages, sprinkled throughout, add a touch of whimsical magic to Parrish’s poems. I recommend this book to women, especially those who enjoy free verse poetry or the outdoors, or who may have suffered trauma, and those who need a little inspiration to carry on. There is much within Parrish’s voice that will inspire!