Rust Fish, by Maya Jewell Zeller.
Lost Horse Press, Sandpoint, Iowa, 2010.
Review by Debrah Lechner
Maya Jewell Zeller was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, and this is the scene that sets most of the poems in Rust Fish. Zeller’s version of the Pacific Northwest is an interior landscape, and a story of childhood, of the real creating the imaginary, and the imaginary in turn transforming the real. It is an ecological cycle of transubstantiation.
Here is the entire poem “When Wishing Up.”
I see that summer’s tar side
Of rafters drip. That hot,
and just this river’s keeping cool.
I’m on my back, this barn’s hay soft
and sharp at once. Like fourteen.
Plum blossoms. I want to be leafed
with you, new green
around our wrists
each day. But then the gray of August sat,
fat as sparrows along tin eaves, their claws
curled tight like sharp fern fronds. I spoke.
I speak. Only the smelt repeat my rasp, their dark
mouths shining awake from alders
strewn white and black against the far clay bank.
Fish, whether of flesh or of metal, whether swimming or rusting, are never far from the heart of these poems. The acceptance and instruction of the natural world portends and finally fulfills the acceptance of self as a part of it, providing a bridge to the bewildering world of our own species.
This is a volume of poetry created by a seeker, and what she finds is a pleasure for her readers.
Maya Jewell Zeller’s poetry can be found in many publications and online, and she has won awards from The Florida Review and Crab Orchard Review. You can purchase this volume at many venues, but Amazon only has three copies left. Acquire one of them here.