Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Real Time of It by Sally Delehant

      Feeling nothing
is the opposite of love.

The Cultural Society, 2012. This book. Oh, this book. It is a sunburn in the shape of a fingerprint.  An owl pellet filled with candy hearts and rabbit bones. It is a box of petit fours left over from a birthday party where somebody has died.

To say A Real Time of It is a treat is to be horribly cliché.

Ms. Delehant has a pitch-perfect ear for rhythm and sound. Combined with an eye that scans the fields, seashore, city, and home for only the details that delight and surprise, her lines such as: “hearts/ adorned with habit’s form,” “snow geese scramble tic-tock,” “eggs/ coddled and under chandelier light,” and “fortune cookies tah-dah a hated taste” read like grown-up nursery rhymes. Just like in those childhood stories, there is something inherently charming about “a puddle of pantyhose,”  “lamps warm piglets” and “Love the sea’s small papers/ we crumple and throw.”

But don’t you dare read these poems in a baby voice, though. Despite its consistent beauty of image and sound, this book snuggles up with sadness. It is a meditation on deep, human grief: the anguish of losing a parent, the heartache of a failed relationship. Here, Ms. Delehant performs the very brave work of expressing real sentimentality in a world that Ping-Pongs between Hallmark cards and post-modern cynicism. She does that nowhere better than in her prose poem, “Easter Sunday”:

On the first anniversary of my mother’s death, I bake a birthday
cake for an attorney I work for. It’s good for me. It reminds me
that every day is someone’s birthday, until I fuck up the cake. I
don’t wait long enough for it to cool, the top layer peels off into
the frosting, and it looks like shit. I drive to the store to buy a re-
placement cake. I think about how my mom lived—smiled, said
“no problem,” bought cakes, took shit from attorneys. I don’t
know what the end of post-modernism means or what a poem
should do. I only know to sit outside my apartment in my dark
car and hold the new cake, with its crown of cookies propped on
whipped cream, and weep.

The voice in “Easter Sunday” is uncharacteristically blunt compared to the rest of her poems, but, perhaps because of that—that break and that surrender—it is this poem that strikes me the hardest.

A Real Time of It is Ms. Delehant’s first book and a resplendent promise for more to come from this remarkably talented young writer. You can find the book here:

Buy it. Read it. Love it, I promise you.

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