(University of Arkansas Press, 1997)
"Of recent titles, perhaps only Donald Hall's Without for the late Jane Kenyon can be placed beside this book for its ability to affectingly convey the bald specifics of private loss. The impact of Shomer's book is palpable."
"If metaphysical poetry is that in which the senses show the way to the extrasensory, even to the divine, then Shomer is a metaphysical poet. Her work is deeply sensual, deeply sexual, and deeply spiritual at once. Like other metaphysical poets, Shomer twists language to force new meanings through it. Unexpected juxtapositions of nouns, startling verb choices, piled-up appositives all work to stretch the language beyond its usual limits. The effect is both clarity and strangeness....Exemplary work."
"Enid Shomer takes her place as one of our most strikingly sensuous and accomplished poets....Shomer's powerful figures of speech are the hallmark of her arresting art. Her poems glow and explode with discovery and surprise...If I have given too many quotations in this brief review, that is because Shomer's art humbles the critic in me and compels me to the simple and spellbound 'look at this!'"
"Beautifully crafted work that remains powerful even after several readings. Shomer uses the stuff of daily life to create imagery that surprises us with its originality... She has a great gift for taking the highly personal and transforming it into the universal."
At last the fish thrashed
out of the water
as if to break the black
bars on his side. One eye
felt the air, the dry
death of it, then he plunged again
in downward spirals.
We had been struggling for ten
minutes—a lifetime—over whose world
would prevail: his, with its purled
edges and continuous center, or mine
with its yin and yang,
its surface incised into sky
and sea, the land like a scar
A crowd had gathered, you could sense
the way you feel tension
on the line when something strikes.
You could hear the awe when they looked
at what I was battling—a creature
who belonged farther out, an ocean
liner in a backwater
bayou. My arms ached with happiness,
my sight narrowed to the place
where the line disappeared, the rod
bent to a hairpin, the fish pulling
at me like religion or god
with the strength of what can't be
Finally, like all saints, he tired,
he became more flesh than force,
flapping on his side, heaving for air,
the marble eye lidless against the sun,
the green water gilding the silver bands
between the black. I have not missed
my father since he died, but now
I want to tell him about the tackle, test,
bait, how the drag was set, though he'd disparage
my catch, remind me of the snook he bragged
of courting for seven years
by the pilings of his condo.
My father, gone entirely sour
by the time I was five, lived for
two things: the racetrack and the pier.
And I was nothing to him, I was only
a noise that shattered his nerves
a mouth chewing too loudly.
Whatever kept him together was thin and taut
as this line. Now someone lowers a basket net
to cradle the fish as we hoist
him to the dock, hooked through the lip,
a gash in the beautiful tail like a broken wish
bone. And there the scarlet blood.
I had forgotten his blood. I had
forgotten that every beauty involves a wound.
Now I pull the fish
from the mournful sound
in which he lived. His gills beat
like stubby wings, the red plush pleats
turning pink, all the fight gone
out of him. And now the fish
is like a man whose agony
was mysterious, whose every gesture,
every silence, was a roar.