Review: Sea Change

Sea Change
Sea Change by Jorie Graham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I first read this collection when it was new 6 years ago. A few months ago, I re-read Graham’s Erosion. I like this collection. However, I have a feeling that I like it, despite it. It claims to be a collection of poems on the cover, but I envision the book as one extended long poem divided into sections and then “poems.” The entire book uses the same invented line form to explore the environment, the weather, the natural water cycles and civilization. The themes ricochet through the pieces , not unlike in John Ashbury’s “The Skaters” in a form I’ve heard called the boomerang in which very long lines seem to veer further and further from the source until the line recrosses its thematic path to explore a new angle. In this collection, Each long line is followed by 1-5 heavily indented shorter lines. I read the shorter lines as rhythmic small waves of the sea lapping at the shore, while the long lines were the cresting waves that push farther onto the coast. In a collection obsessed with rising sea levels and the water cycle, I felt justified in this reading.
From “Sea Change:”

from undercurrents, warming by 1 degree, the in-
planton is forced north now, & yet farther north,
                                            spawning too late for the cod larvae hatch, such
that the hatch will not survive, nor the
                                            species in the end, in the right-now forever un-
                                            interruptible slowing of the
stream, so that I, speaking in this wind today, out loud in it, to no one, am suddenly
                                            aware . . . .

This book takes us from one Autumn through to the next with the moon, rains and birds coming and going, and the trees trying to hold on for eternity.

From “Undated Lullaby:”

I go out and there she is still of course sitting on the nest, dead-center in-
                                            visible in our flowing, big-
still young and staked acacia, crown an almost
                                            circle, dark greens blurring now
in this high wind, wrestling it, compliant too–billion-mouthed transformer of
                                            sun and the carbon molecule– . . . .

Graham aims to chronicle what is passing and to make others aware that “there are sounds the planet will always make, even/if there is no one to hear them.” [from “No Long Way Round”]
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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