Painting by Susan Hammond

Leonore Hildebrandt writes with rich language in a mode that intrigues. Her poetry resembles the painting by Susan Hammond that is tipped in on the front flyleaf of this exquisitely designed chapbook: abstract, light-streaked, hinting at parallel worlds. Hammond's brushstrokes activate a canvas while Hildebrandt's lines, arranged in finely-wrought stanzas, lend energy to the page. Order supports imagination.

    The collection of 10 poems opens with “Spindrift and the Heart.” Right from the title we enter into verse that plays with connections: wave spray and “the blood's agitation.” We are studying the sea, “the waves' stacked wheels/tripping over themselves as they/topple and foam to the shore”—a wonderfully fresh way of describing breakers.  

    “Illusion in Blue” begins with an observation: “Lately, our tenses are neither/present nor past, but impossibly/absent as we try to take hold.” The poet seems to be talking about a relationship where two people are not connecting. Following images of survival and winter, a thawing occurs, “brown grasses...laid out/to dry in the sun.” The final line cites the recurring invitation in Robert Frost's poem “The Pasture”: “You come too.” Here, it's an acknowledgment of accompaniment.   

    “Mother's China” also references relationships, between generations. Childhood memories mix with the present—changes happen but “the river still is the river.” The poem also calls to mind Maine: “Perhaps it is December's depletion of color/that draws us to luster, to golden plates/and fine glasses.”

    The title poem is in six short parts, each describing a woman's preoccupations: “maneuvering/the hoarse granite,” gathering “bruised apples,” listening to voices “greasing and graveling/the breaking news.” We get glimpses of time and place and incident: “Stars/cluster in the same/blackened hills where/they shot a traitor, the boy—/without a bird to sing/the cease fire.” Has a revolution taken place? What country is this and whose hand is it that runs “its gold/through such patient hair”?

     The German-born Hildebrandt has lived in Harrington, Maine, for over twenty years. She teaches writing at the University of Maine and runs the Maine Writers Series at the University of Maine at Machias. She serves as an editor for the Beloit Poetry Journal and is a part of the Flat  Bay Collective, a “cluster of artists living—happily removed from the national cultural marketplace—in rural, coastal Washington County.” Her poems have appeared in a range of journals, including Puckerbrush Review, the Denver Quarterly and, most recently, the on-line LOCUSPOINT. Hildebrandt was a 2011 winner of a Dibner Writing Fellowship.

    This chapbook, limited to 100 copies, was hand-printed by letterpress and bound under the direction of Bernie Vinzani in the Book Arts Studio at the University of Maine at Machias. The craft of its construction is commensurate with the lines that lie within.

        Carl Little. “You Come Too.” Puckerbrush Review. Spring/Summer 2012.