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Still Pilgrim

Still Pilgrim: Poems by Angela Alaimo O’Donnell

There is a kind of distance that you often gauge when I read poetry, the feeling that you’d like to experience what the poet describes but you don’t know if you ever will.  Descriptions sometimes fall by the way because they are either too elevated in nature or too base in feeling, the way a movie can bring together both elements.  Yet, in certain cases, poems hit one squarely in the heart, because the experiences land so universally and the emotions too real to forget.  Angela Alaimo O’Donnell’s new collection of poems, Still Pilgrim, captures both the events of every life and the feelings that flow from them in a beautiful and captivating way.

In the Still Pilgrim Sings to Her Child Angela pens;

But you are you, my mystery,
my gray-eyed boy, my history
Embedded in your body made of love.
This the moment I still dream of.
Though twenty years have come and gone
I sing to you, and you’re my song.

The beauty of birth, of bearing a child made from God’s hand is remarkable.  There is an awe and mystery to a new life, and yet after some time, twenty years, the song of a mother becomes a life in her son, carrying out all her love in his life.  Unmistakable was the birth of our daughter, and I see every day the way she sings the wonder of her mother, so sweet and so beautiful.

The legacy of a loved one still lives on in the actions that we do today, and this is no different than in the poem entitled The Still Pilgrim Makes Dinner.

For ashes, flour upon my head.
For prayers, the rise of scented smoke.
My mother, who is five years dead,
lives in this meat, these eggs I broke,
This dish she taught me how to make,
this wine I drink, this break I break.

It isn’t even in the emulation of an act once remembered that is so important here but the memory of a person, so lively and real that you can’t forget their ways, their demeanor and life.  The little things that our loved ones teach us never pass our gaze because their person looms larger than the activity itself.  This is the same I remember with my grandma, who would bring life to the worst of things.

You don’t want to miss these extraordinary poems by Angela O’Donnell.

Thanks to Paraclete Press for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


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