Foreword Reviews

Altar for Broken Things


Acorns, crows, lightning, and sand dollars; crickets and physics and neon-red dyed turkey feather headdresses. Such things deserve attention, but in their plain familiarity, frighten the likes of lesser poets. Deborah A. Miranda sees the natural world anew, by sitting still as long as it takes. A member of the Ohlone-Costanoan Esselen Nation of California and the author of three other collections and a memoir, Miranda is a professor of English at Washington and Lee University.


A tulip poplar blossom
falls into my open palm:
cool cup, creamy
center with a ragged
ring of flame.

It has lived in the canopy
where the bees came
in their golden bodies,
filled their saddlebags
with pollen, carried it home
to the hive. All winter,
they’ll consume this memory
—the sable, smoky taste
of a tree transformed
into light.

I want to go like that: a flowery
comet shooting slowly
across the dawn sky,
drenched in hungry kisses;
drifting into an open hand,
placed gently on the earth—
one small offering

upon the altar.

Reviewed by Matt Sutherland

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