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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

cover of Polishing the Petoskey Stone

Glimpsed through these poems, Luci Shaw seems to be the kind of person who notices things, and often those things remind her of aspects of her faith; she sees graffiti when she is driving on the freeway, and it makes her think of the rain falling on her windshield as love graffiti from God; she sees a house being built, and when it is finished, she remembers the "secret trees" that are now hidden, the wood timbers that form the structure of the house; she notices a sign posted on the roadside where an auto accident caused someone's death, and she meditates on it; she picks up a starfish, and wonders if fish swim through the milky way or stars glimmer under the sea.

Most of the poems in this collection are fairly short, and generally not too difficult to understand. Shaw's poetry tends, at times, to be more conventional in form, and this seems to be more the case in the older volumes, but her language is always beautiful, and the content is inspiring, or thoughtful, or fascinating. A few poems are quite playful (like the person developing wings and no longer quite held by gravity in "Aviation Symptoms"), some are more serious. In some poems, Shaw meditates on passages of scripture, familiar Biblical stories, or theological points-- but they are always connected to her own life, made personal; others are explicitly rooted in her personal experience, or written for specifical people in her life.

The poem "The Omnipresence" seems emblematic of Shaw's outlook, as seen through the poems collected here-- she looks carefully and observes is around here, and she sees evidence of God everywhere.

Reminders flicker at us from
odd angles, nor will he be ignored;
we sight him in unlikely places,
oaths and dates and empty tombs.
God. His print is everywhere,
stamped on the macro- and the microcosm.
Feathers, shells, stars, cells speak
his diversity. The multiplicity of
leaf and light says God. Wind,
sensed but unseen, breathes the old
metaphor again. Seasons are his
signature. The double helix
spells his spiral name.
Faith summons him, and doubt
blows only the sheerest skein
of mist across his face.

Title:Polishing the Petoskey Stone: New and Selected Poems
Author:Luci Shaw
Date published:1990
Number of pages:266
Notes:Repeat reading.


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