Bargain with the Speed of Light, by Patricia Percival
“Poems became sieves, lures
for glints of thought”
In this moving debut, Bargain with the Speed of Light, Patricia Percival creates a memorial to a beloved brother and a record of the power of the past to infuse the radiant present. In these twenty-three poems a candid and grieving voice travels backward. Percival honors the mysteries of memory while paying tribute to the vividness of the sensuous world: “A koi, still wearing the sun’s glow / is a door / to a day I’d forgotten.” –Lee Upton, author of The Tao of Humiliation
Fishing for WordsTo wear my lost brother’s shoes, I studied poems. At first I tried forms: mangled sonnets, pantoums, fairy tales in bumptious pentameter. Uncouth scribbles, offered to ghosts. Next, came sketches of the dim past: a rotten egg found long after Easter, Mom shearing poodles in the garage, John’s Davy Crockett coonskin cap. I wrote at 2:00 a.m., when my time was my own. At that hour, the pen seemed to beckon my dead like the Ouija board at Sandover. On good nights, karma commandeered the page, scribbling advice like a coach or a giddy guru master. Poems became sieves, lures for glints of thought: a few goldfish in crystal water, more often catfish, ugly lungfish, muddy bottom biters. Up alone, I waited for practice to yield a secret handshake or séance wave goodbye. As years passed I learned to settle for the company poems yield in hours that play out long and slim, like lines real fishers use.