Recently I had the good fortune of reading dozens of books as one of the judges in a national poetry contest but none had the timely theme of widowhood: actuary tables state women live longer than men and our own observation bears this out. The chapbook, Evening Sun: A Widow's Journey by Aline Soules, opens with "Changing Direction" and closes with "Notes VII;" the twenty-nine poems are dedicated to her husband, Donald Keith Soules (1944-1999). Poems from her chapbook have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and have appeared in such journals as Shaking Like a Mountain, The Houston Literary Review.
One of the strengths of the chapbook is that Soules uses everyday activities such as washing dishes and grocery shopping to show the loss of her husband with such depth and poignancy that readers immediately relate. Loss and grief are some of the universals we must all figure out how to deal with and readers can understand the experience even if it is not a spouse. In the poem, "Things I Need to Tell You. Questions I Want to Ask" is the memorable stanza:
I tried to give away your baseball glove, a first baseman's I discovered (did you tell me that?), but it's left-handed and the boy who'd love to have it is a righty.
Soules frequently remembers places where she has been with loved ones. Soules recalls time on Lake Erie, "an inland sea with no tide/water lapping over and over." In another poem they are on a river: "You dip your paddle/to turn the canoe. I lay mine across my knees/". In the poem, "Winter Walk, Hoapili Trail" the couple walk on a lava road in Hawaii: "our feet slip on loose black rocks/sounding like cutlery shifting in a drawer./"
Soules' poems capture pathos with economy and elegant craftsmanship without sentimentality or overtones of complaint. The poems are not the longer narrative prose poems that appear in her Meditation on Woman. Various locations such as Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, Meadow Brook Festival in Michigan, Death Valley in California, and famous musicians such as Ravel, Horowitz, Dvorak help shape the chapbook that shares with the reader a widow's journey and personal elegy, in the carefully selected lyrical and understated free verse poems.
Soules' work has appeared in journals, e-zines, and anthologies such as The MacGuffin, Literature of the Expanding Frontier, Kenyon Review. She earned an MA in English, MSLS in Library Science, and an MFA in Creative Writing. Visit her website.
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