Reviewed by PQ Contributing Editor Arthur McMaster
Florida poet and educator Lola Haskins asks in her poem “Moor,” this not-so-rhetorical question, “and what survives? Only the voracious” she offers, then adds what more she sees:
The central Florida landscape and several of its arcane creatures populate her poems in the first part of the book—the osprey, the wood storks “hunched like priests in the trees.” She includes as well the “occasional alligator, its blunt nose / and hooded eyes half submerged. ” She has trained her eye and powers of observation to what is seldom noticed. Later, the properties of our own bodies are revelatory, not least the great toe, “a house with one window.”
Have we been inattentive? I can’t help but think of the town of Rosewood, Florida, not far from Ms. Haskins’ hometown of Gainesville. A town burned to the ground in January of 1923 following a race riot. A town made of wood and perhaps a little concrete and mud; a town largely forgotten. And maybe we are, all of us, inattentive.
In a three-part prose poem titled “Some Geometries of Love,” the poet offers an explanation for why we seem to take only so much of the word to ourselves, tempted perhaps to let the rest of it simply go. I offer here in full the second part of her outstanding triptych. This section of the poem is titled “Circle.” It tells us something vital about whom and what we have chosen to be, to know:
There are not enough pencils. Not enough good poems and questions, such as these.