Poetry. "Somebody scrape it out, write it down, / all of it, nothing brushed aside..." Peter Schireson follows his own injunction in his new collection of poems, SWORD OF GLASS, leaving nothing out, encompassing matters cosmic and comic, revealing them to be sides of the same coinage of life. He finds evidence of "Divinity" in "that curvy green plastic thing / in the hardware store" as readily as in orioles and apricots. The middle section of the book is devoted to a Bergman-esque "scenes from a
marriage," unflinchingly honest and poignant, from the first moment of wondering "what would happen" through the too-late realization "I was not as kind to her / as I should have been." In the title poem, his father's father appears as an absurd survivor (at one point hilariously disrupting a family wedding), tucking him into bed in childhood with warnings to go right to sleep, lest otherwise "in the morning, sunlight will cut you / like a sword of glass, and you'll never again / be able to jump up and down...", but later revealing, on his deathbed, that "Life is sunlight held together by blood..." Such a simple recipe, and yet, as Schireson shows us repeatedly through these poems, it is of such basic things that we are made. In his penultimate poem he reduces it even further: "I hear the rattle of keys. / I open the door, and / it’s nothing. / Nothing, I think, / and reach out / to touch it." And, like the Big Bang itself, out of this nothing comes wonder.
Peter Schireson began writing after a long career, first in education, then in business. He holds a PhD in Education from Harvard University and an MFA from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. He is also an ordained Zen Buddhist priest and dharma lineage holder, having trained in both the US and Japan. He lives in Palo Alto, California and New York City with his wife Grace, with whom he co-edited Zen Bridge: The Zen Teachings of Keido Fukushima. His latest book is SWORD OF GLASS (Broadstone Books, 2019). Author City: PALO ALTO, CA USA