It took me a long time to pen these paragraphs, and that itself puzzled me. Expressing what literature made me feel had always been an easy exercise for me, and this weeks long unusual delay was…for a lack of a better term, flummoxed me. Suddenly, last night, it came rushing to me.
This is no ordinary collection of poems. Written in the emotionally fraught context of a daughter professing her emotions for her deceased father, it is a storehouse of paradoxes. To paint the life of an individual, a cosmically proportionate piece of dust, on the canvas of the universes at large is nothing short of astounding. Smith is unabashedly chaotic in her thoughts, but like a quintessential Einstein-sque foreshadowing, you can sense the beauty of some order that may emerge. Here’s where the first disappointment kicks in. It doesn’t.
This was startling for me. The lack of a coherence after promising structure stung like a betrayal. I was forced to hark back and dive into some poems again, eagerly hunting for a clue that I might have missed, that centrepiece of the puzzle that would make everything perfect. This is when the second disappointment hit hard. Not only did I not find what I was looking for, I was drawn into an even more mysterious possibility of deep unexpected messages.
It took weeks of pondering to hit the nail on the head. It struck me much like the lightning that echoed outside my window. Suddenly, all at once, monstrously loud and fear-inducing, but eternally humbling and beautiful. The feeling that these poems left me with, was the oxymoronic idea of optimistic melancholy. Grief and sadness, but somehow with the lamp of hope still alive. It would be a disservice to even attempt to elaborate on this in this format, but that’s the only anecdote I leave you with (and what this book left for me) – sometimes, the journey is all that you need to experience, because it’s not the end but the way to the end that makes the experience what it is.