In Colors Passing Through Us, Marge Piercy is at the height of her powers, writing about what matters to her most: the lives of women, nature, Jewish ritual, love between men and women, and politics, sexual and otherwise. Feisty and funny as always, she turns a sharp eye on the world around her, bidding an ex-hausted farewell to the twentieth century and singing an "electronic breakdown blues" for the twenty-first.
She memorializes movingly those who, like los desaparecidos and the victims of 9/11, disappear suddenly and without a trace. She writes an elegy for her mother, a woman who struggled with a deadening round of housework, washing on Monday, ironing on Tuesday, and so on, "until stroke broke / her open." She remembers the scraps of lace, the touch of velvet, that were part of her maternal inheritance and first aroused her sensual curiosity. Here are paeans to the pleasures of the natural world (rosy ripe tomatoes, a mating dance of hawks) as the poet confronts her own mortality in the cycle of seasons and the eternity of the cosmos: "I am hurrying, I am running hard / toward I don't know what, / but I mean to arrive before dark."
Other poems-about her grandmother's passage from Russia to the New World, or the interrupting of a Passover seder to watch a comet pass-expand on Piercy's appreciation of Jewish life that won her so much acclaim in The Art of Blessing the Day. Colors Passing Through Us is a moving celebration of the endurance of love and of the phenomenon of life itself-a book to treasure.
--from page 125Rising in perilous hope
What can I hold in my hands this morning
that will not flow through my fingers?
What words can I say that will catch
in your mind like burrs, chiggers that burrow?
If my touch could heal, I would lay my hands
on your bent head and bellow prayers.
If my words could change the weather
or the government or the way the world
twists and guts us, fast or slow,
what could I do but what I do now?
I fit words together and say them;
it is a given like the color of my eyes.
I hope it makes a small difference, as
I hope the drought will break and the morning
come rising out of the ocean wearing
a cloak of clean sweet mist and swirling terns.From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from Colors Passing Through Us by Marge Piercy. Copyright © 2003 by Marge Piercy. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
About Marge Piercy
Marge Piercy is the author of seventeen collections of poetry, including Circles on the Water, a selection from her early works. In 1990 her poetry won the Golden Rose, the oldest poetry award in the country. She is also the author of a memoir, Sleeping with Cats, and seventeen novels, the most recent being Sex Wars. Her fiction and poetry have been translated into nineteen languages. She lives on Cape Cod with her husband, Ira Wood, the novelist and public radio interviewer, with whom she has written a play, a novel, and most recently the second edition of So You Want to Write: How to Master the Craft of Fiction and Personal Narrative. They teach workshops together and separately.