Patricia Lewis Goodman
~60 pages, $14 cover price
Release date: August 2014
~60 pages, $14 cover price
Patricia Lewis Goodman is a widowed mother and grandmother and a graduate of Wells College with a degree in Biology and membership in Phi Beta Kappa. She spent her career raising, training and showing horses with her orthodontist husband, on their farm in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. She now lives on the banks of the Red Clay Creek in Delaware, where she enjoys birding, singing and spending time with her family. Many of her poems have been published in both print and online journals and anthologies and she is a regular reader at Second Saturday Poets in Wilmington. “Closer to the Ground” was a finalist in the Dogfish Head Brewery Poetry Contest. Patricia’s work is heavily influenced by the natural world she loves.
This book of poems is an elegy: to a beloved husband and to the author’s life as it used to be. Pat Goodman gives us an intimate look into love and its loss, but the book is also one of celebration, of turning to the future. Closer to the Ground is a brave book, one of witness and one we all need to read.
–Linda Blaskey, The Broadkill Review
A husband and wife, hunting together, spend a long day tracking a bear through rough country. When, toward dusk, they find it treed, the arduous day and the act of hunting itself take unexpected turns; the hunt ends with more questions than it began. This book asks questions to which there are, inevitably, no answers. And while the questions themselves are unbearable, the poems that move through them and walk among them are conscious acts of survival. There is grace in the walking, grace in a survival that refuses to ask for anything as easy or comforting as answers and grace, certainly in the memory of an extraordinary marriage. The quietness with which Goodman speaks these memories makes them all the more vivid and aching. The discipline of paying attention to and embracing a world that is as wounding as it is lovely offers itself here not as lesson or advice, but as witness.
Closer to the Ground by Patricia Lewis Goodman is a stunning book of beautifully rendered poems. With a direct, clear voice, this poet writes the grief of a husband’s suicide—making the unspeakable spoken; making the unimaginable real. Goodman asks: “What is life? That flicker of electricity that/sparks a heart?” In strong, steady lines, we see the everyday brutality of farm life: “…Brambles crawled/over everything, until all that remained/were skulls buried in the tangle,//and me, picking ripe blackberries/along the verge.” With incredible courage, Goodman finds a glimpse of light: “In a few years the hillside healed—/gardens fragrant with clematis and roses,/the pasture below sweet with milkweed.” Buy this book.
“I’m going down
to see what the vultures are eating,”
he said, one spring morning.
He had mowed the fields
the day before.
I found him later,
greasing his tractor.
“What caused the vultures’ excitement?”
He paused. “A tiny fawn –
chopped to pieces.”
He is a big game hunter,
able to bring down an elephant, a lion
He often teases me
about my soft heart,
my tendency to love a leaf,
a grasshopper, early morning light.
The fawn was never mentioned again.
The next year
grass in the fields grew long,
went to seed,
mowed after every fawn
was old enough to run
Yesterday we cleared away debris
where farm pond waters spill into the stream,
a fallen willow rooted in the wet,
and mounds of weeds and grass that blocked the flow.
My husband and his tractor hauled each load,
after we had shoveled, chopped and sawed,
just two old backs and two old pairs of arms
working as we have for fifty years.
We had no money when we started out,
so we just did the work all by ourselves.
Besides, we loved the way it made us feel,
young and vital, strong and in control.
We move more slowly now, but work so well,
we may continue working when we’re gone.
Our kids might see the signs around the fields,
(my favorite trowel lying in a path)
or wake one morning to a scraping sound
and see two spectral figures shoveling snow,
as if the work is all we’ve lived to do,
as if we’re having too much fun to go.
When I close my eyes I still
see you lying there
in the woods where we found you
in the pouring rain, late summer,
pallor of death on your skin,
mouth slightly open,
knees drawn up
(you must have been sitting),
your blood staining the soil
I fall to my knees to hold you,
but the children pull me away.
The blood on my hands, my knees
I will wash off later in the stream.
And now the police
in big yellow slickers
push us aside, as if
one of us had pulled the trigger,
robbed our world
of the man who was our lifeline,
and I hear myself pleading,
Will someone please wake me?
This has to be a nightmare,
but all I hear is a terrible,