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Sugaring

By: Ann Cefola
Review by: Moira Richards

January 2009

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In a handwritten note from Ann Cefola, tucked inside my copy of Sugaring, the author tells me that her chapbook is, “inspired by Vermont – a leafy, hill New England state” and I look forward to sharing her love for a place on the planet to which I’ve never been, nor am likely to visit. The cover art is Cefola’s own work, a vibrant splash of clear blue and green overrun with autumn colours which put me in mind of forests turning at that time of year.

And indeed, the first ten poems which comprise the first section of the book, do bring images of leaves and trees and of Frida Kahlo paints. They convey nostalgia for,

Snows that cool summer-starved fir,
ice that claps and creaks like a debutante’s long glass gloves,
snow smart as powdered epaulets on just-decorated officers.

Each autumn watching maples flame out and poplars yellow.
Twilight sun spinning us gold and purple
until we know ourselves royalty. (“Pining” 14)

The also poems speak Vermont’s slushy muddy springs and the deathly winters that precede them,

If you must escape,
the angel of late winter counsels
my comatose father, do it now
before the strength of green reappears
. (“February” 13)

The poems in the second half of Sugaring look to the skies of this Northeast Kingdom. One poem undulates an experience of the hemisphere’s the unearthly night lights over its page,

Furious stardust, I don’t blame you:
To hit this soft pillow I too would set
the world on fire (“Aurora” 20)

Another poem rails at, mourns, the shooting of a bear but concedes too, the inevitability of death after life,

If I were native, I’d chant the stilled ragged breath
below the silver rim into heaven.

There must be a great bear who gathers the wounded into whole.
I’ve often looked for her but even the night sky has a hunter. (“Open Season” 23)

This small book of poetry of place gave me an intimate and moving glimpse into this place that Ann Cefola loves so well, which seems to have become part of her.

 

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