A DIFFERENT PHYSICS by Lisa Rosenberg
Red Mountain Press, 2018. 77 pages.
Reviewed by Irene Adler
Having a father and grandfather beguiled by flight and outer space, Lisa Rosenberg acknowledges that she “…was born an eldest son…” Posed
with her father’s Kwiksilver model plane at age four, she stands in its shadow:
It is bigger than I am.
I kneel, holding the neck …
against my shoulder, not seeing all
I am modeling on a morning of open sky.
The elements of a life are here, including fascination with technology, building models that escape gravity, an old dream, the urge to see what is out there beyond the beyond she calls “flagrant flight.” She, too, learned to love working with tools, took a degree in physics, then an MFA in creative writing (because writing was also necessary), worked as an engineer, founded a marketing consulting practice and became a licensed private pilot.
This is a scientist/poet, acutely aware that contemporary life is an odd mix of the ordinary and extraordinary:
several hundred artificial sisters
to the moon… relay
a voice in numbers, return to us the likes
of forestation, sea ice, smoke.
The world we know is a mix of what nature and man have made, commingled on earth and in space. This is a seeker’s voice, moving out and away only
to turn and look back, joining past with future.
“A different physics,” she writes, helps us “to meet the world.” It gives us: “…a
supple net to cast onto the sea of meaning.” And that net bridges botany as well:
A shower, a flurrying out
from the maple’s canopy –
wings turned winged
seed pods in my hand.
Now, as a writing wife and mother, she recalls her own mother’s safety
concerns with a father’s model-building on weekends in the heart of the aerospace industry:
…worried over glue fumes and X-acto blades
as engines cured in the oven, as engines
bathed in our garage and solder smoked…
But there is another element where nature challenges, and she plumbs the sea,
as well, in “Moon Jellies:”
Animate in the back-lit
you fly –
eggs in arced rows…
There are visits to other continents, to Attica in Greece where:
I expected something
oracular to come to me
there above the whitecaps
and the journey laid out.
The poems themselves are a journey out, like the satellite’s, with hunger for learning and change embodied in experience, the saturation in mystery enlivening a poetic vision that connects the earthly and material with the vast unknowns of space. A brave journey, ending in a salute to an ancient forerunner, “Archaeopteryx.”
“Perfect as Nike.
Head bent, feathers
of upturned wings
to wonder at…”
Wonder. That is the constant factor in these lyrics and the adventures they offer to the reader.
Irene Adler has been a California teacher, writer, and for many years co-owner of a manufacturing business in original toys and coffee makers. She has memorized poetry since childhood and keeps reading new--and old--work, finding inspiration in “the art of the word.”