Heather Minette’s “Half-Light” unstrands the ends of experience: the moment, the memory and the space in between. They exist together in her grief that spans the collection of poems and metamorphose into intentionally half-illuminated meditations. Her poems are dewy with privacy, the light before the sun has risen in full. The opening line becomes a metaphor for the poet and reader relationship. She, too, is the kaleidoscope and while reading we believe, “I still see her sometimes / in fragments.”
And if kaleidoscopes distort, her work, too, kaleidoscopes the light of fiction and reality, exposing the true topography of memory. She shows it as “momentary hope,” but also as pain, as absence, as passively omnipresent. With each poem, memory places a different role. Half-new, half what it was before.
While walking in the half-light of her reflections, she instructs readers how to understand her. Her poem, “A Silent Promise,” seems to be just as much an act of ars poetica as it is a personal meditation of a factual event. “Her tone is too familiar / and the rain does not stop.” She warns us who she is and where we’re going in the poem. But we don’t want to look away. In her book, like in her poem Revival, “the wind blew from two different directions, / giving shoulders a reason to touch.” We’re drawn to look right into the wind.
The chaos is both nostalgia and a reason for connection. We find ourselves, like her, “tripping… over idle memories” she left for us, the way she did in black high heels. She gives us the door to our own closet, our own past and says have a seat, your body thanks you for coming. It’s not about her, in the end, but us–where we go when we meet her.
When reading, I see myself, like her and her brother in Christmas ‘88, “wearing matching red sweaters.” We’re drinking tea and there we are, back in memory, separately together–the way any strangers become quiet when they’re suddenly intimately connected and the past becomes their present together.
In her poems, she awakens what we’ve buried or forgotten, gently. Her words are a hand, the faint memory of the rain leftover in pastel clouds and puddled sidewalks. She makes us unafraid of the mud that might smear on our skin as we read. We’re not afraid to skin our knees.
review by Crystal Stone
Crystal Stone is currently pursuing an MFA at Iowa State University and has given a TEDx talk on poetry. Work has appeared or is forthcoming in Tuck Magazine, Writers Resist, Drunk Monkeys, Coldnoon, Poets Reading the News, Jet Fuel Review, Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle, North Central Review, Badlands Review, Green Blotter, Southword Journal Online, BONED, Eunoia Review, and Dylan Days.
Half Light is available here: