Beneath Green Rain (Paperback)
Purple Flag, 9780944048641, 100pp.
Publication Date: February 15, 2015
The deftly rendered poems of Raby's new collection are a powerful testament to a life fully lived (and, of course, fully living ). They are paeans to the magical people/animals/things which are integral to human fullness: to childhood memories; to the family dog, Caesar; to a father who spent more time with books and collections than his growing children; to a giving mother brave in life and death; to long deceased grandparents; to the incessant longing for children and grandchildren too far away for frequent visits; and to old poets. Raby's poetic forays into the natural world, of which there are many, are especially insightful and memorable sketches of bears, snapping turtles, hummingbirds, juncos, mourning doves, house finches, deer, squirrels, and mountain lions. Few poets writing today can match Raby in capturing, with accessible yet exquisite language, the joy, mystery, and fleeting beauty of simply being alive. The title poem of the collection, In Memoriam, aptly demonstrates Raby's mastery of poetic craft. In this poem, as in so many other poems of this collection, subject, language and earth are seamlessly fused in epiphanic utterance. The protagonist, martyred / to burnt bones, rests in her earthen grave: Her body is bronze, / her hair is moss / beneath green rain. / Cool water cascades / over her shoulders / here she is quenched liquid. / Here she is solid grace. Raby's skillful execution of the poem and seamless merging of subject, language, and earth bring to mind Seamus Heaney's Bog Queen. Raby's imagery, like Heaney's, will resonate in the reader's mind long after the book is placed back on the shelf. -Larry D. Thomas (2008 Texas Poet Laureate)