Surface Displacements by Sheila Packa (2022. Wildwood River Press. ISBN 978-1-947787-36-0
I woke to an acre of mayflies
a lace of water lilies and weeds
before and after
nudges of waves
coming to and from the island
a cloud on the water, thick pollen afloat
and lines crossing.
Confession time. I know the poet. She knows me and has even been a pre-reader for Sukulaiset. So take my review here with a grain of salt. But I have to say, friend or not, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Ms. Packa as encapsulated in her latest volume of poems. Why?
First, she carefully and dutifully explores NE MN, where both of us have lived the majority of our lives. It takes someone who is born (or has spent extensive time in) the gabbro and peat and muskeg and open pit mines and black water to do this place justice. And she has. Second, the title cleverly sets the stage for an examination of the displacements we, as northerners living in a land of cold and snow and mining (and, sometimes seemingly incomprehensibly, wilderness) and our ancestors, be they Finnish (Packa’s) or mine (Slovenian) commonly experience. One might argue that her musings about our “neck of the woods” containing three continental divides (the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Gulf of Mexico to the south), given the erosive power of the rivers raging to those compass points, forms a third displacement, one based upon geographical orientation and watery flow.
I sat in my easy chair in my writing studio over a period of a couple of weeks inhaling these little gems of verse and wisdom. I was unhappy my time with this work ended so quickly. That said, this is my first review typed at my new stand-up desk in my studio space, a feature that my newly fused and titaniumized low back sorely (pun intended) needed. All things considered, fused spine and all, I’m happy to give the newest effort from Duluth’s former poet-laureate a big thumbs up.
4 and 1/2 stars out of 5.