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What Ed Bennett wrote:
Roberta Feins' book, Something Like a River, is a personal history in verse
of one of the many who migrated from the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific. The
stark beauty of these poems comes from Ms. Fines' deep understanding of the
history and geography of a particular place as well as the penetrating obser-
vation of places as they are now. She does not simply see a mirror's reflect-
ion; she sees each layer of time and space as if dissecting it under a micro-

In the poem "Though I Live West, My Heart is East" she begins her westward
journey with:

"Born on this coast, where the sun rises over ocean…

Though I live West, My Heart is East
by Roberta Feins

At Watervleit Shaker Village, I stroll
a flea market in its 1848 meeting house.
Visiting Albany, where I lived
in my seventeenth to twenty-third years,

I drive streets which still grid my dreams ‐
Price Chopper grocery store, alley of old maples ‐
squeeze nostalgia from an exit ramp
where I stalled, learning to drive stick.

At the granite gray State Capitol,
My heart strobed to the flash and clamor of politics.
Born on this coast, where the sun rises over ocean,
small prey for my taloned superiors, all the words

they used to name me choked tight, spelled failure.
North winds swirled down the wintry Hudson,
moaning through grates on the Rensselaer Bridge.
I moved West, where the sun sets over ocean,

summers are cool, woods green even in winter.
Any time I come back, homesick, I smell
traps of asphalt, tar bubbling in hot streets.
Tonight, a table is prepared in the presence of my relatives,

loaded with food for which I hunger: memories, whitefish.
In summer, roadsides riot with sparklers of flowering milkweed,
wild blue lupine, plumes of poison sumac.

First appeared in BlueLine Vol 32 2011

Ed's full review can be viewed here:


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