Still, the Sky
by Tom Pearson
Ransom Poet Publishers

"In my imagination, in the night theater,
You have to dig deep. The key to what comes next
Has always been lost in your own hand,
My consort, clenching—"

This collection of poetry will satisfy the lover of Greek myth. Some poems explore King Asterion's relationship with his son Minos, but the times could also be today. The father-son relationship is examined in all its forms but especially focuses on the father's neglect and the son's desire to rebel. These aspects include being far from home, being betrayed, and witnessing the consequences of a father's infidelity on his children. Set first in Crete, then Venice, and then the open waters, all relate to the original labyrinth created by Daedalus.

Pearson's book includes images that are three-dimensional, full of color, and range from abstract to concrete. Sometimes the name of the figure hints at its meaning, such as "obfuscation," "prognostication," and "the Dig Near Lake Maggiore." One opening image is of an antique card catalog with all those alphabetized drawers that slide out to reveal the title and information about a book one searches for on the library shelves. These images have the effect of creating nostalgia for a fondly remembered time long gone. One drawer contains items from the dive at Lago Di Ripola: artifacts, treasures, and other lost things. Another drawer holds a wax impression of the head of Medusa. These artistic images are framed by words that conjure ravens and peach trees, travelers stomping on yesterday's tragedy. The narrator inspires the reader's sympathy: "We walk to untangle, to tell how it has been / To love this Gordian place and the stories / It ties itself up in, the comedies and / Tragedies we seek—"

Poems about Icarus flying too close to the sun explore the responsibility of the father and suggest that a father's neglect is a far more tragic reason for a son's fall than the dangers of the son's ambition. When this coming-of-age narrator floats between Scylla and Charybdis, he focuses on making a "cartography of where hands have passed." The characters acknowledge the labyrinth of responsibilities and negligence even in the hardest tests. Yes, this is a voyage without a map but with plenty of ancestral fear. Rainfall is horse hoofs on terra cotta tiles. Dreamscapes are the destinations scattered by so many heroic journeys and falls. Ariadne's thread is discovered in archives of things longed for and in things regretted. The core is a maze. Ambitions can be abandoned like a feather on the floor that, when left alone, will be lifted by the wind.

Pearson's collection pays homage to the uncomfortable realization that men are exploited for their ambitions. The price neglected sons pay in their search for elusive praise echoes the Daedalus and Icarus relationship that dwells deep in the heart of all of us. The consolation in all the drama of fathers pushing their sons too far is wisdom: "listen from the margins of what is unspoken." The images of the apothecary drawers with the collected artifacts give this collection the feeling of being at an art gallery installment. Each one reflects on the poems and expands their meaning. This exuberant creation delights the eyes and inner ear and lends itself to repeat readings and in-depth thinking.

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