The Essential P.K. Page / selected by Arlene Lampert and Théa Gray.
Erin, ON: Porcupine's Quill Press, c2008.
The second in the Porcupine's Quill series of Essential Poets, this is a quick gathering up of some of the many, many poems of P.K. Page. As they say in the introduction,
the collection is admittedly wildly idiosyncratic and certain to be controversial. Arranged alphabetically for easy reference, these poems do not reflect a `young' or a `mature' voice; for Page, time is not linear and change does not occur along a narrow path. Think of this volume as a sort of pocket P. K. Page making its way into backpacks, carry-on luggage, doctors' waiting rooms ...
P. K. Page has been writing for around 60 years; she's in her 90s now and put out a new volume of short stories just over a year ago, entitled Up on the Roof. She's best known as a poet, however, and this is a good introduction to a wide variety of her work. I can see it carried in a pocket and being pulled out to read one or two from time to time. Here are a couple for your delectation:
The very stars are justified.
I have proofread
the beautiful script.
There are no
Evening Dance of the Grey Flies
Grey flies, fragile, slender-winged and slender-legged
scribble a pencilled script across the sunlit lawn.
As grass and leaves grow black
the grey flies gleam --
their cursive flight a gold calligraphy.
It is the light that gilds their frail
bodies, makes them fat and bright as bees --
reflected or refracted light --
as once my fist
burnished by some beam I could not see
glowed like gold mail and conjured Charlemagne
as once your face
grey with illness and with age --
a silverpoint against the pillow's white --
shone suddenly like the sun
before you died.