Heather Minette’s collection Half Light is an exploration of death, both real and imagined, of people and of romance. It moves from a child-like fear of death, of the loss of a parent, to a mature portrait of how to deal with the loss of a child and a lover. Minette has the keen ability to relocate the reader into these often simple, domestic spaces through unadorned imagery wound around an emotional core. Lines like “I tell them he is not here. / And the Fireflies are gone, too” (from “Penitentiary”) convey this loss in simple, but profoundly moving terms.
The first section ends with the poem “Sand Mermaids” where she compares the impermanence of her mother to “papier-mache faces that fall from tall bookshelves,” an image which captures the ethereal and often panic-inducing feeling of the loss which awaits us all as we transition from childhood to adulthood.
The collection often feels like “a poem that writes itself through an open window” (from “Carryin’ On”). We catch glimpses of the speaker from the inside and the outside, like a wistful memory or observance. She shifts between first and third person, reflecting back and forth between the speaker and the mirrored image of the speaker, allowing the reader access to both sides of the frame in an innovative and interesting way.
The half-light of Heather Minette’s Half Light ends up not feeling gray or dull, but blonde and sunny as a child at the end of a long day. Every poem is full of both fear and loss, but a certain amount of domestic, Southern charm, be it in the references to country music like Johnny Cash or Patsy Cline, or in the landscape observations, or the cool narrative voice of the speaker. We’re left with not brokenness from loss, but a speaker who, “says these stars shine just for me” (from “December”). This book is ultimately about the light and not the darkness in the half-light, about how to find hope in this tired world.
review by Sara Moore Wagner
Sara Moore Wagner is the Cincinnati based author of the chapbook Hooked Through (Five Oaks Press, 2017). Her poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies including Glass, Gulf Stream, Gigantic Sequins, Stirring, Reservoir, and Arsenic Lobster, among others. She has been nominated for a Pushcart prize, and was a recent finalist for the Tishman Review’s Edna St Vincent Millay Prize. Find her at http://www.saramoorewagner.com.
Half Light is available here: