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Hoppenthaler, John. Lives of Water, poems.

Carnegie Mellon Univ. Press, dist. by Cornell Univ. Press Services. 80p. c2003.0-88748385-2. $12.95. SA

The title of this collection is as insightful as it is interesting, the thematic motif charting the ebb and tide of transitory relationships being as pervasive and germane to the collection as the recurring descriptive physical presentations of water in individual pieces. In these poems Hoppenthaler deals with the vagaries and complexities of love; "But Christy pulls down her shirt,/ presses a kiss to her fingers, / blows it at me across the pond. / How careless & beautiful. / Just like us, too:/I can't catch it for the wind." The same honest confrontation with reality, those same joys and frustrations, are paralleled in family affiliations, in memories of grandfathers and uncles who have died alone. "In Romania, she'd raised him like her own,/now couldn't raise him again." Though this is his first book, these poems make obvious why Hoppenthaler has been widely published. His diction is simple and direct, familiar and accessible while maintaining a lyrical quality. "...If we could/ swing open our arms together, I soft wind would rustle/and dance with the leaves." His images are clear and universal. And the poems, due to his fine use of implication, extend beyond the last word while both inviting and demanding the imaginative participation of the reader. "I've watched my image I pulsate the rippled surface I for as long as I can remember,/since before the vivid casts of my father, I red & white spoons / flung out farther than seemed possible." These are clear and immediate pieces, honest and accurate in their perceptions and presentations. James Beschta, Barre, MA
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Author:Beschta, James
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 2003
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