Amy L. George gently invites readers to pause and take in moments with the poet’s persona as she stops at places along life’s journey. The Stopping Places (Finishing Line Press, 2018) is a profoundly lovely chapbook of poems anchored by four seasons of life. We move through the spring, summer, autumn, and winter to places connected by metaphoric threads of George’s silken lines. Those threads are slowly woven around us into a storied kimono.
Creating the conceit of written lines as threads of fabric, George opens with Spring, that season in which “life was nearer than death,” and we feel both the exuberance of the fledgling and the slight fear of what is unknown: “when the world/ becomes a bigger place, / even the mirror enlarges itself. //And though we may not realize it, our shadow becomes that of a giant’s.” We embark upon a journey with the poet’s persona in which “all things new and/ waters uncharted” in the poem “Compass.” Always with us in Spring is that fleeting shadow of childhood running and chasing against time.
Imagery scorched by sunlight floods into the second section of George’s chapbook, Summer. The poet’s mastery over technique is everywhere apparent with metaphors and catachresis taking our breath: “spiders spun their fragile dreams” in “Zen Garden” and “the sound of seagulls/ crying as they wheeled/ through cloudy portals, the breathing of the waves” in “Memory.” Sound echoes with “cicadas humming,” in “Rowboat,” yet the persona remarks on forgetting “the sound of the clock/ ticking in its impatience” in “Focus.”
Autumn finds that the “trees [have] ceased applauding” in this life before winter, “before the dark curtain fell.” We watch “The Performance” with the poet and by the poet as “an invisible baton” conducts even the trees with their dance of leaves. Playing with puns, George gives us leaves and leaving: “Some evenings when the wind/ blows leaves across my path/I remember how it felt” in “Before We Disappeared.” In “Focus,” the poet writes, “let the migrant wind/ embrace me.”
While winter chills and causes us to ache with images of snow covering footsteps, even memories, George offers far more than loss and leaving in the last section of The Stopping Places. Although we linger in places where “those who’ve slipped away” and hear the world “hushed” and notes “faded,” the Poet is sublimely creator. She “paints the sound of journeys” in “Ideogram” and other poems in this final section of the chapbook. Poet has asked us to stop and linger but also continues to move us forward throughout The Stopping Places and in “Propulsion (in memory of those who’ve slipped away).” Amy L. George colors her lyrical last act of “Sayonara” in Winter with the lifeblood of the artist: “If I were Picasso, I would paint love/ in tight red circles, / silken lines like thread/ from tattered kimonos.”