Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Death Defying

By San Juanita Garza

OCTOBER 25, 1999: 

The Storm That Tames Us by Renée Gregorio (La Alameda Press), paper, $12

Surviving the death of a life partner is unquestionably one of the hardest events human beings face. Further, the pain of such a loss is often too strong and personal to fuel the creation of artful, hopeful or sharable poetry. But Renée Gregorio has accomplished the impossible with The Storm That Tames Us. This book is so full of intelligence, wonder and life that it defies death to kill the hope of the human spirit.

Gregorio doesn't bombard us with pain. Instead, the poems relate a woman's survival after her life partner's passing. Thankfully, this survival is recorded with the unwavering honesty, beauty and openness of a gifted, insightful and mature poet. We are moved from a loving relationship through the death of one partner and the solitary life that follows: "Behind these walls, I eat the dinner of solitude./It is a quiet meal, with candles and sometimes flowers/freshly cut from my garden. It is a meal that I need both hands/to eat. ... It is a meal of invention./ ... I like eating alone. But sometimes Galway Kinnell comes./He always wants oatmeal ... " (from "Solitude Dinner").

After a series of moves and tenuous partnerings, the speaker must face her fear of loving someone new. Again, Gregorio's honesty provides understanding and guidance: "Already he speaks: I love you and I ask / how do you know? I am not rebuking him,/only curious for the ways in which these words/are said or not said, for the difference they make ... " (from "The Painted and the Real").

Gregorio carries us through loss with loving words, awkward alone moments and wisdom gleaned from nature, literature, mythology and self-reflection. With sensitivity and insight, we are brought to a burgeoning hope that could flourish in each of us -- if we let it.

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