The Gathering Light at San Cataldo heftetEngelsk, 2015


In The Gathering Light at San Cataldo, Jeff Alfier obeys the command in his first poem, "Make known to us the sea." Lush poems detail Alfier's travel through the physical world of towns like Savelletri, Torre Canne, Sardinia, and Ancona Marittima. Always vigilant, intellectually detailed, there is affirmation not only of the self but also of the community. The body of a man who fishes and of the woman who releases "him to the sea, as dark as it is" are not urns holding memory, but are filled with spirit from the past that sustains them even as he "drops in weariness." Alfier invites us into his poems by immersing us in an abundance of sensual particulars like flour wintered knuckles, lightening cleaving summer, braying children, and the glance of a woman "culled from shadow." Weaving light into rhythm and image, Alfier's poems mesmerize with musical language evoking loss but also the love, slippery and shining as a fish that darts in and out, contained in the hands of an old married couple as he reaches to her across the table, "aware her touch will complete the circuit." The poems in this beautifully crafted collection are significant, are necessary because they teach us the importance of being quiet, of listening. These are not poems that can be sailed out into the Adriatic Sea. They boomerang and anchor in the heart. - Vivian Shipley