“I focus and actually exult” is how poet Karla Linn Merrifield of Kent, NY, succinctly conveys the poetic process of exploring life’s timeless themes – eros, death, time, patience, longing –- in her new chapbook, The Etowah River Psalms.
Merrifield’s is a deeply spiritual and sensual collection in which nature is worshiped and the human-as-animal is integrated into the web of life. Thus, in “The Beholder,” two lovers are united under “shimmering light… under the ancient stars above us. And in “Entering the Garden of the Universe,” what is human in the poem’s speaker is part of the fabric of nature in its entirety: “I now choose to live carnally. / Like the ocean, I have no other god / than gravity.”
The collection was inspired by Georgia poet Beau Cutts’s master poem, “The Etowah,” from which she drew lines that became the kernels for all of the poems in this chapbook. Thus, Cutts originally wrote of “cleansing the inner gray” and Merrifield, borrowing the line, created with it the poem “Darkroom Work,” the first stanza of which is:
Cleansing our inner gray,
we plunge first into black and white,
a glossy emotional tableau
of Ansel’s grandest views:
mountains, mesas, canyons, coulees.
He parses the territory
of our great hearts in full moonlight.
Thus, from one poem about a river flowed the many poems of The Etowah River Psalms.