Blood Transparencies: An Autobiography in Verse
Blood Transparencies, an autobiographical poetry collection by Randy White, is an eloquent and poignant look at a life via verbal snapshots. These precious pearls shaped in words are beautiful, drawing forth emotion and resonant memory from the reader. There were several times I had to stop reading; I was so overcome with my own memories that tears of nostalgia blurred my vision.
I found it amusing that the very first poem, “Blood Transparencies,” referenced a notion that I crafted a whole poem on about a year ago, that of memories being like beads on a thread. Later in the same poem, the transparencies are referred to as “a perfect fossil of light and dark interred in celluloid.” I find this to be such a beautiful way of referring to them.
Poems such as “St Lucy Jones,” “Wild Animals We Have Know,” “On Reading Homer,” and “Our Sunday School” were ones that called to my own past growing up on my grandparents’ horse farm. My grandmother was good with animals, wild and domestic alike, and she passed that on to me. I grew up surrounded by myriad types of animals, learning lessons from them all. These same grandparents fanned the flames of my love of reading. Even quite young, I would sneak awake at night to journey to fantastic places, breathing in the scent of magic and mystery.
Others drew emotion from me not because of the similarity of resident memory, but because the topic clashed with my values and beliefs. “The Priest at St Joseph’s” really did a number on me. I have an issue with religions that condemn innocents born as bastards to Limbo. That’s punishing the wrong party, if, indeed, there is anything at all that warrants punishment.
“Counted in Sheep Years,” now that was a lovely poem, a beautiful commentary on the nature our relationship with one of our earliest domesticates. It starts with a stanza encapsulating millennia, then goes on to detail one family’s interactions with young children growing up with and among the sheep. This, again, reminded me of my own childhood, raised among different domesticates, yet so many of the experiences were similar. I love the verses relating death to the giving of life. Destruction of any kind has the potential to bring new growth, and here is a perfect example.
I feel ‘Dante’s Children’ is among the best of the collection. It woke memories in me of visiting my great-grandmother, who was suffering from dementia, followed soon enough by watching my grandmother as she succumbed to end-stage renal failure. She spent too much time in such a place, under palliative care, till we brought her home, our suffering and hers now private, sheltered.
Highly recommended. Such phrasing! White is a masterful artist, painting beauty with words. These poems will draw out your own memories, bringing tears of joy, tears of pain, tears of remembrance for history now faded to the past.
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