Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Review: Three Fourths of a Dream

Three Fourths of a Dream Three Fourths of a Dream by Siobhan Casey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am proudly biased in favor of this book. Siobhan was my student several years ago, and she wrote some brave and beautiful essays in our class. Still, I wouldn’t tout this chapbook as I am if I didn’t think it was terrific in its own right.

Siobhan has a gift here for confronting the difficult – whether it’s her speaker’s diabetes, the challenges of being a young woman in the ‘teens, or a child’s diagnosis of autism – and moving through it to the hope that lies on the other side. These are accessible, challenging, and inspiring all at the same time. They are rooted in our Northeast Pennsylvania geography, but they go in many directions.

The end of the first poem – few of these have titles other than their first lines – is a good example. As she writes:

You went diving

for the one with no bruise

--and in a dream

the stars make a gate
that finally opens

That sense of pushing through challenge (or sometimes adversity) and then finding hope sets the larger pattern that follows. The speaker pushes against what ought to be a limit and moves on.

Another of the examples I love is from “Miracle,” a meditation on taking care of a child labeled as “nonverbal autistic.” After reflecting on the way leaves die into beauty in the fall, the speaker concludes,

And as I lead him down the road
he says the word yes out loud
when all signs point to no.

I’ll settle for one more example among many that really got to me. “Albuquerque Dreams” is mostly about reflecting on a friend being far away. After meditating on what it might be like in a West with a different climate and a different world, the speaker concludes,

In my dream
There are no miles
Left to travel,

No sudden drops

Only the pair of us

Balanced like stuntmen
On the wing
Of a plane
This is a short, moving set of reflections. It’s a great tonic for what feels like a dark time. It can be a little tough to find – there’s a Venmo app that I didn’t quite master – but I urge you to look for it from Siobhan herself.

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