A genuine, moving, and intimate collection…
Gutteridge continues to explore his major subjects—love, longing, grief, memories—in his rewarding latest collection, finding ways to celebrate the fond memories of the past while mourning the loss of his loved ones and weaving a love for life well-lived and persistent longing throughout. Written in the memory of his beloved wife, the title poem, “Lover’s Moon,” is suffused with intimacy as Gutteridge invites the reader to accompany him on a trip down memory lane while pondering over fond memories of his youth. He carefully balances brevity with meticulously polished depth, making it clear the words matter to him: in “Ardor,” he writes: “The grass on Grandfather’s lawn/ was as green as the pastures of Parnassus/ (I hoped someday to graze/ in my bard’s garb), hugged/ by hedges, where lilacs bloomed.” In “Sorties,” he delves into children’s ability to enjoy life fully, owing to their obliviousness to future: “We were young and free,/ at home in our brand-new/ bones and certain we were/ endowed immortal.” “Blonde,” “Hey, Nonny,” and “Yen” focus on boyhood sexuality and newly-find lust for the fairer sex, and “Uttering” is a meditation on childhood memory of his grandfather’s vibrant yard. The book’s central themes consist of love, memories, longing, pain, grief, boyhood lust, and passion. And while religion and Christianity make a number of appearances, it’s only in passing. Poignant and keenly perceptive, the collection is deliberately approachable and written in a charming, almost quaint style. “Hoisted: Waterloo County 1960,” another poem written in his wife’s memory, shimmers with innovative lyricism and emotional vulnerability: “It was December dark the night/ we strolled the pinnacle at Doon,/ my palm like a prayer in yours,/ and the moon bloomed bountiful/ above, just for us.” “Apostasy” reads like a lyrical confession: “My poems erupt like blood/ blisters, and the words come/ unbudded into being like lewd/ blooms, licked ticklish/ by licorous light, and I wanted/ to capture the gist of my village.” These poems shimmer with thematic heft without shying away from pain and grief. In “Love-lit,” a heartening piece written in his wife’s memory, Gutteridge contemplates the meaning of young love and what it means to be newly married. The collection is very personal, a love letter to his wife, a life fully lived and enjoyed, and memoriam for days, both happy and sad, gone by. For example, in “This Day” Gutteridge takes a snapshot of his own eighty-four years. The poem is colored by nostalgia and an appreciation for life lived good. Balancing tenderness with strength, and love with pain, Gutteridge offers a complex portrait of a narrator navigating old age with grace. Brimming with poems full of heart, nostalgia, and feeling, this empathetic, wise, and honest work is well worth visiting again and again.
By Don Gutteridge