Unfinished Painting

Mary Jo Salter, Author, Ann Close, Editor Alfred A. Knopf $9.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-679-72298-4
A sidewalk painter who refuses to hurry his rendition of the Birth of Venus though it threatens to rain, the late-night crying of a daughter, the unexplained suicide of a friend: Salter's ( Henry Purcell in Japan ) perceptions in this Lamont-winning collection are both accomplished and deeply felt. The poet studs the path to an emotional and mental realm with earthly and physical markers. In ``Spring Thaw in South Hadley,'' the ``long scissors of the sun'' send snow crashing from rooftops, and the passage from winter into spring is both violent and triumphant, evoking ``a sacramental joy.'' In the title poem, a man recognizes his mother in a painting she made of him, seeing ``in his flushed face how she'd / re-created there what rose / and fell in hers.'' The narrator of the autobiographical ``Dead Letters'' reads mail still being sent to her late mother, cares for the plants that were in her room when she died, and yet tries to communicate: ``I send / more letters, Mother--these despite / the answers you can't write.'' Salter's silver tongue conveys an oblique but unflinching approach to ever-vital issues--the passing of time, the perseverance of love and memory. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/27/1989
Release date: 03/01/1989
Hardcover - 68 pages - 978-0-394-57417-2
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