It’s no surprise Sarah Russell’s poems have appeared in Poetry Breakfast a few times. She has a unique way of taking our life experiences and trimming them down to the emotional core.
In I lost summer somewhere she tackles relationships, hopes, losses, and the inescapable events we experience in our lifetimes. With each poem there is a raw tenderness – a very rare thing to find – but something she does almost instinctively.
She has the gift of both illuminating what we already know of our life experiences and simultaneously guiding us to see them in a completely new light.
When I told truth to go away
we were girls –
skipping rope with life.
“I can’t be your friend,” I told her.
“You know my secret.”
Truth shrugged. “OK.
I’ll be here when you need me.”
She waved goodbye, and went
to live in the hills
with hummingbirds and foxes.
I stayed behind, secure in my choice,
though joy was hard to find, I never
trusted love, and I reacted oddly
to the seemingly mundane –
lilies made me nauseous, Black Beauty
gave me nightmares, a breeze against my neck
could make me cry. After fifty years,
I looked for Truth again.
She hadn’t changed – still young,
sweet, smiling, glad to see me.
But I’d become Wilde’s portrait in the attic—
haggard, bitter, burden-stooped.
I asked what would have happened
if I’d let her have her way.
“You’d have suffered” she said. “People
would have shamed you. They’d say
you made it up. But you’d be free.”
I’ve grown quiet here. My mind
has opened to woodsong
and the smell of earth turned
by a trowel.
I enjoy solitude, even when regrets
and the throb of an old lover happen by.
Sometimes I invite them in, make
a ritual of teacups on starched linen,
a silver server for the scones.
We reminisce ‘til shadows trace
across the floor, call them away.
Afterwards, I tidy up, wipe away
drops spilled in the pouring. I save
the leftovers though they’re getting stale.
I may crumble them on the porch rail
tomorrow for sparrows
before I garden.
“Melancholy, exuberance, nostalgia, fulfillment, contentment, longing—Sarah Russell hits all the spots, and there isn’t one poem where a woman won’t be able to identify in some way. She’s singing all our songs, putting into magical words things we felt so often but never knew how to tell. This book has deep sadness matched by laughter, gentleness, love and a sense of adventure. It was a privilege being there with her, living what she remembers, identifying with every line. “‘I want to live,’ she said, / and this time I knew / she didn’t mean forever.” Indeed—who hasn’t been there. I LOST SUMMER SOMEWHERE is a book of poetry you will find difficult to put down. A rare gift, a gentle journey from life’s morning into the evening, and deeply moving.” —Rose Mary Boehm, author of Tangents, From the Ruhr to Somewhere Near Dresden, and Peru Blues
“Sarah Russell brings us into her world, a world of “dream-filled summer nights,” where “leaves are October butterflies.” Readers will connect with poems about love found and lost, the end of a long marriage, illness, new love, aging, and death. Russell’s poems sing the important moments of life. It’s a song that stays in your mind, drawing you back to the poems again and again.” —Nina Bennett, author of Mix Tape and The House of Yearning
“Sarah Russell’s poems don’t have to crawl under your skin. They have always been there. If you haven’t known a suicide or gone through divorce or cancer, you’ve known the fear. If you’ve never had a love you’d marry twice if you had three lives, you’ve felt the longing. Russell may have lost summer somewhere, but she has found what makes us human.” —Alarie Tennille, author of Waking on the Moon and Running Counterclockwise
About the Poet: Sarah Russell has returned to poetry after a career teaching, writing and editing academic prose. She holds a Ph.D. in Communication Theory from the University of Colorado. Her poems have been published in Kentucky Review, Red River Review, Misfit Magazine, Third Wednesday, Psaltery andLyre, and many other print and online journals and anthologies. She has won awards from Goodreads, Poetry Nook, and is a Pushcart Prize nominee. This volume of poetry received an Honorable Mention for the 2018 Concrete Wolf Louis Award. She lives in State College, Pennsylvania, with her husband Roy Clariana. They spend summers in Colorado to be near children and grandchildren. She blogs at: SarahRussellPoetry.net.