Valley of the Moon

by Jane Munro

On the drive to the respite hotel,
the Goldberg Variations: a bridge to peace.

Sora bidding farewell to Basho –
Sora leaning forward on his elbow.

          *

In the moment of leaving,
when words set sail from paper …

soul clings
to one burning
as fire clings to a stick.

          *

Even when the mind’s a sieve,
soul doesn’t grieve –
cannot believe

in scarcity. A mountain,
a river – fully this,
fully that.

            	

Notes on the Poem

Does a poem's title affect your reaction to the entire poem? Of course it does, for good, for bad, for otherwise. Let's examine Jane Munro's "Valley of the Moon" from her 2015 Griffin Poetry Prize winning collection "Blue Sonoma" with this in mind. In September 2015, the world was riveted by the rare occurrence of a supermoon total eclipse. The enduring mystique of all things lunar has fascinated humanity since time immemorial, not just from a scientific perspective, but in emotional, spiritual and many other forms. Because the moon's beautiful presence is a constant and as such often a comfort, is it any wonder that this reader imagined the achingly wistful story of this poem bathed in a soothing light on the basis of the title? As mentioned previously in another Poem of the Week selection from this collection, Munro has revealed that she wrote the poems comprising "Blue Sonoma" while her husband was suffering from and died of Alzheimer’s disease. “As the life closest to me was being erased frame by frame, dementia became a metaphor for me,” she said moments after accepting the Griffin Poetry Prize. Just as Sora could no longer journey with Basho, the narrator of this poem can no longer travel with her partner in the next stage of his journey. "In the moment of leaving, when words set sail from paper ..." did the narrator perhaps derive some solace from gentle moonglow, a softer rendition of the colour of the paper she conjures here?

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