This Too by Linda Dove
Tebot Bach, 2017, 29 pp.
Reviewed by Naoko Fujimoto
“I am no longer rowing this boat. Oarless, I cheat death. I skim gloom. My arms go on,/working without me…My arms mallet the world. They tip time. They keen to the air like wings/that were clipped.”
Reading the above passage from Linda Dove’s, This Too, I am reminded of the duality of human nature. We are body and spirit, believing we are birds yet realizing, for all our earthly striving, that we cannot fly.
Dove’s collection is infused with heartbreak and rejection, but always lightened and grounded by the earthy pigments of the natural world: “The hens relent, transform to parsnips and beets.” Dark and light images intertwine awkwardly and beautifully: “How I do not/wither at the sight of the cucumber,/peeled back to its wet interior.”
This Too consists of 25 diary-like prose poems in the voice of St. Nicholas of Tolentino, a beloved 13th century Italian mystic. Every title in the book begins with the saint’s name, e.g.,
“St. Nicholas of Tolentino Has a Vision of Bread”
“St. Nicholas of Tolentino Comes Back as Atticus Finch”
“St. Nicholas of Tolentino Confronts His Moral Ambivalence in the Buffet Line”
Ultimately, Dove’s book seeks to answer the question, “How do we live as wingless birds?” She uncovers the answer one poem at a time: “It could heal his need to move on, how/some birds don’t use their wings but still live in the sky.”
Holy light through stained glass illuminates the many gems in this stunning collection, “ . . . it may be . . . [still dark]—holding something open:/this too, this too, this too.”
Naoko Fujimoto was born and raised in Nagoya, Japan. She was an exchange student and received a B.A. and M.A. from Indiana University. Her forthcoming poetry collections are Mother Said, I Want Your Pain, winner of the Shared Dream Immigrant Contest by Backbone Press (spring, 2018), Where I Was Born, winner of the editor's choice by Willow Books (spring, 2019), and Glyph:Graphic Poetry=Trans. Sensory by Tupelo Press (winter, 2019). She is an editor and fellow at RHINO.