I. Marie Reilly's first collection of poems, SAYING SO, originated
in the experience of joining a writers' workshop at a local senior
center. Commitment to the group marked her transition from East
Coast educator to Southwest writer. MOVING MATTERS, the second
collection, is an exploration of her experience of moving from a
lifetime in New York City to retirement in a small city in the
Chihuahuan desert. The work reflects a mature woman's experience of
loss and renewal. These largely lyric poems tell of geography and
transition, loss and memory, and creativity, experienced in fresh
local settings. The collection is dedicated to a group of dear
friends in New York, colleagues from the early days of teaching, in
the 1960's. To this day, a core of the group meets monthly in
support and in celebration of friendship. Retired teachers of
literature and history, they are also writers, painters, and
performance artists; counselors and therapists; world travelers,
great-grandmothers and community arts activists. II. Change forges
the life of the author, a mature woman: from New York City to a
small city in the southwest; from the nearness of close friends and
her aging mother; from the site of professional achievement to a
new and unfamiliar setting; from the place of her childhood and
maturity to the place of her seniority. It is the need for change
that forms the basis of the segment titled, 'In Transit/ion."
Journey (MOVING MATTERS, 2006) The truth: I wanted things to be as
they were, yet no longer able to stay in place I moved away. I
wanted things to be as they were- no I didn't- before I moved away.
I longed for the long ago, as well as my future. No I didn't-and
yes. I was beside myself.No chair was comfortable, no place right.
With a desperate wish to be free of the deadly I strode out of
town. (Or did I scamper or slink or stagger away?) No chair was
right. The harsh, strict, uncompromised truth: I strode out of town
no longer willing to sit fixed in place. In 'Then, Now," dislodged
and adjusting to new circumstances, the poet is stirred by
insistent memory; but a sense of adventure nourishes her, echoing
the confidence and hope of the young woman she once was. Late-Day
Place (MOVING MATTERS, 2006) Seek shelter in the shade that sun
creates today. Regroup. Recuperate. In color and breeze music and
chatter and silence love the heat that compels you to thrive anew
in relationships. The third segment, titled 'Brooklyn Girl" finds
the past delighting and dismaying the poet as it lingers throughout
the vivid present. The Roof (MOVING MATTERS, 2006) You want to know
how the tarred roof pleased my nose in summer. But it didn't, not
then in Brooklyn, in '43. It didn't then, but it does now in memory
and on the very roof of a mouth still awash in breakfast. How
memories, like dingy garments, whiten and brighten when hung out on
a clothesline to the past It was a long trip up the intricately
tiled stairs to the roof atop the fourth floor, past where Mrs.
Cahill opened her door to Parcel Post delivery to add another to
her apartmentful of unopened boxes; past where Maureen O'Leary
cried/screamed/ and tried to please the rulers of her domain; past
where the Shelleys pontificated and parented two nuns and a rogue.
My 60 year old self has not forgot the traces of tattered garments
worn behind lace curtains on the avenues of Brooklyn in '43. Never
forgotten but brightened today injoy in a personal era of all where
past is whisked away to the present. Fey banners flapping in the
wind pinned on the rope/ Can you see the picture? In 'Tribute," the
poet lays bare the poignancy of growing into seniority in the
presence of a parent of great age. After Noon (SAYING SO, 2001) In
the interest of life aging hands, like claws, hang onto
independence. Everything depends on it: Life. Breath. Being. When
the time comes . when it's your time . when it's your turn, lean on
me (though my shoulder be not free) to turn to Death.
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