I remember little treasure chest books from my childhood. Their pages were always tattered because they were a comfort in my quiet moments. Their covers were scraped and buffed like well worn shoes by other toys and books because they were companions to so many of my activities.
Alison Stine's Lot Of My Sister is much the same sort of book--it is new but already well-read and well-used. There are notes in the margins and lovely little snippets of words stored away in my memory. It was a comfort in these days of September, 2001.
A slender chapbook, it is clothed in a cover that is a delight to touch and not so brilliantly colored that one will expect exlosions within its covers. This is a book of poetry, after all, and one comes to it expecting a different kind of experience.
By any standard, this is a lovely book of poetry but it most touching when Stine describes the special sounds of being deaf. When she touches on this aspect of her own life, the poems become close and personal.
From "Blood Music:"
"my ear hammer beating, dull and tuneless at the velvet-shoed end of a broken piano key, still pounding, intent, as though it makes a difference."
From "Vincent's Ear:"
"I felt Van Gogh and I were soul mates. I would have given him my good ear."
From "Fields Beyond Fields:"
"...one hand memorized the closed mouths of lockers..."
This slim volume is also full of moments when we share other bits of humanity with the author:
"...the swallow of our morning cups."
and the image of a cancer survivor:
"eyelashes like tea leaves in her morning cup?"
Lot Of My Sister is a little books that offers twenty-five pages for twenty-five moments of respite--moments that anyone can "work in" to their schedule and so enrich their lives.
This report prepared by Carolyn Howard-Johnson