Poems from the Wilderness
When poems are seductive, they can conceal more than they reveal. Jack Mayer’s Poems from the Wilderness is a memoir culled from twenty-five years of creativity at first straightforward:
When I was twelven
I mailed a comic book coupon,
hoping against hope
that I would be the kid
to win an electric Ford Thunderbird.
Mayer’s son returns from summer camp bringing more memories: fingernail dirt lines, grime encrusted socks, clothing stiff from sweat, and an over-used high school gym locker scent.
And then…. and then …. the lyricism of his poetry reaches out, the secular becomes spiritual as the wilderness embraces, evolving from the prosaic details of his world view, he catches
of the ineffable, the ephemeral, the everlasting,
trying to reckon which is which.’
The forests and the mountainsides provide a sanctuary, not an escape, for although reluctant to hear hikers’ tales he is too courteous to ignore them as he seeks solitude. Nature has carried him from youth to age yet he feels himself part of a greater scheme:
I am a God to the birds
flocking to my feeder in winter.
A forgiving God.
The birds are foremost until the poem’s ending,
I revel in the mystery, the prayer that a God
behind the window loves me enough
To feed my soul.
The poems explore, sometimes delight or comfort. But I was fearful all along that Poems from the Wilderness was not exaltation, but a lament.
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