Monday, February 17, 2020

Tanya Mendonsa's The Fisher of Perch: Not a Review

She had me at "abandoned coffee saplings jingle their blood beads." It is coffee picking season back home in Kodagu, and everywhere I turn, here in my sun soaked studio in this teeming city, everywhere I turn, I can smell from memory the smell of fat, white flowers that erupt and leave behind these blood beads. 

Tanya Mendonsa's latest book The Fisher of Perch: A Fable for Our Times in one long poem. Published by Design Foundry, what struck me before I read even a word is the gorgeousness of the slim book. The illustrations are exquisite, white sparrows, rafts, butterflies and flowers against deep dark blue backgrounds to separate the poem into sections. The blue feel like an ode to the Blue Mountains where the lovely Tanya lives, and where I met her some years ago on an evening of the pink full moon over tea and whiskey.

The fable has a river and hills and flowers of many kinds, stones and spongy moss, a sun that parts the mist, nut trees and talkative squirrels. The river is one that "never stops talking to itself, the poet, in her course of her flaneuseing, can hear the waters clearly, "it sounds like the laughter of young girls." 

Much happens around this river, giving the poet plenty to think about. For a long time though, she does not go to the river, not yet, 
"because I want to learn its language first
to talk back to it."

Indeed the book is a fable for our times, for there is something so wholehearted, so simple about it.The meandering of the poet, and via her, of the reader's thought processes harks at a slower time and place. Once she gets to the river and eventually begins to know but a part of it, it changes her just as she does it.

"Washed clean of the stains of the world,
the river and I now share the same tongue."

The Fisher of Perch is a poem to linger over, hoping it won't end too soon. Speaking of the river is, too, speaking of a life well lived, with love, flowers and butterflies and many a sweet day of walking the hills. 

I loved this book and I must borrow Tanya's lines to say just how much, words for the river again,

"I could read this book all my life and never tire
slowly eating the pomegranate seeds of the days."

(Disclaimer: The publisher sent me a copy of this lovely book at the poet's behest. My gratitude to both.)

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