The Beauty of This World. Rosemary Zurlo-Cuva. Parallel Press. University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries. Madison, Wisconsin. 2014.
"A lifetime isn't long enough for the beauty of this world,
and the responsibilities of your life.
Scatter your flowers over the graves, and walk away."
from Flare 12
Rosemary Zurlo-Cuva starts her marvelous chapbook The Beauty of This World with this perfect Mary Oliver quote.
It is the exact right tone to set for these poems.
Zurlo-Cruz is subtle and slightly subversive. These poems start you in one clear direction, a recognizable path and then Zurlo-Cruz effortlessly turns the world around under our feet. It is an accomplished feat of engineering, an impressive skill to have.
We Have Always Known Grief
There were always the fireflies, rising
out of the grass at dusk, the call of crickets
at summer's end when the fat milk pods begged
to be split and their seeds to float like
questions on the wind
and the endlessly churning lake, impervious
to the cries of seagulls, changing color with each
passing cloud, smoothing bits of shattered
bottle glass and spitting them back
as jewels to be treasured and forgotten
in a small girl's pocket
the roar of the city bus after depositing
the cleaning ladies on our unimproved
suburban lanes as if aliens from
another planet, the immigrant grandmother
enthroned on a lime-green plastic
lawn chair, tugging her black sweater close
on the hottest summer afternoon.
Zurlo-Cuva's poem "Post Card to My Mother" rang so familiar to me that for a moment I thought I'd written it, which is faint praise for poor Ms. Zurlo-Cuva - but this poem paralleled my life experience in the most surrealistic way.
I had to share it with Today's book of poetry readers.
Post Card to My Mother
On the lane from Sudeley Castle, a shaded
stone bench beside a brook and a meadow. A horse
grazing far off in the corner seems not to notice
when I sit down to rest from the gravel dust
and a midday sun. "You've dreamed your whole
life about England," my mother said as I packed
to leave. "I worry the real thing might
disappoint you." It went unsaid
the number of real things that had come
to disappoint her.
I pull a post card and a pen out of my pack
and pause, listening to the rush
and slap of the brook over stones, the world
imperturbably green. I sit frozen long enough
that the horse comes to investigate, leaning
over the fence to blow a puff of hot breath
on my shoulder.
Years later, boxing my mother's things, cleaning
out her desk after the funeral, I find
among the other letters and cards, the one
picturing Sudeley Castle. On it I had written: Dear Mom,
I am not disappointed.
Well that teared me up real good. Caused a tear for one or two of our interns as well. Handkerchief time.
There are no pyrotechnics or marvels of post-modernist construction in The Beauty of This World. These poems are old-school, bell in the belfry, certain. The ring with clarity.
My Mother's Bones
We buried her in pink Pumas -- her last
mail-order purchase -- and now I can't stop
picturing those sneakers cradling
the small, gnarled bones
of her feet. We ought to have dressed
her in woolens, a London Fog
for the damp, instead of the pale
summer dress she'd worn to parties
and teas, and matched
her vivid blue eyes -- so thoroughly
unsuitable for an eternity
in the ground.
Rosemary Zurlo-Cuva's solid poems are ones you could hang your hat on, come in, make yourself at home with.
Today's book of poetry staff all liked this book, solid as rock, subtle as a knowing whisper.
ABOUT THE AUTHORRosemary Zurlo-Cuva grew up in Milwaukee, got her undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and has lived there ever since. She works as a journalist, editor, and writing teacher. Her novel, Travel for Agoraphobics was published as an e-book in 2011.
Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher. They are shown here for publicity and review purposes. For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.