Pris Campbell's best poems celebrate sensuality and passion in direct, plain-spoken language that is nevertheless revelatory. This particular book is a blend of prose, poetry and photographs concerning a journey on a sailing sloop that also served -- in retrospect -- as an attempt to save a failing relationship. The attempt -- almost needless to say -- failed, but the discoveries made on the journey affirm life in a more essential kind of way.
I always enjoy a well-rendered blend of prose and poetry. To be frank, not all the poems in the book pack the kind of intensity that others that I've read of hers have, but the book has its own earthy authenticity, adding up to a truly pleasant read like a warm cup of coffee on a cold day.
One of my favourite poems is Original Sin, featured below. The lognotes fill us in on practical details a landlubber like myself would be unlikely to learn otherwise, and produce sketches of temporary communities set up between wayfarers which would be impossible on land. The book is a journey into new territories, but also -- and more deeply -- into memory. Thoreau is a definite precedent: indeed, this book could be described as a Waldenesque experience on the waves.
Sea Trails is available at Lummox Press and Amazon; signed copies of the book are available via the author's website.
When Adam bedded Eve in these dark pines
I wonder if they laughed in their nakedness,
threw kisses at lopsided stars.
I doubt Adam searched for other Eves to ogle,
found fault or ignored her.
He likely never took joy in jabbing her
with sharp twigs or thorns.
I dream of them cooing blissfully,
serpent and apple still in their future.
Our boat swings with the tide, waking us.
He slides inside. My very own Adam,
already tainted by original sin.
The Chesapeake opens beneath us,
a woman spreading her skirt wide
to greet the Atlantic, already throbbing
with September winds at her feet.
I learn to lay down a trot line,
haul hungry crabs to the surface, tossing
the lucky red-bellied females back.
I learn that fish gasp in upper Bay
pollution, that sea grass cries,
that watermen chug out at dawn past
clanging buoys and clearing mist
hoping to net their catch for the day.
I learn that heaven is right here
in these blue waters, the upside-down sky,
that the spirits of old sailors walk
on our bow at night, telling lost stories
about Tangier Isle, Shanks, Queens Ridge,
Piney Island. I learn how love
of the sea can rush right through you
with the wind, until your heart is translucent
with joy as intense as pain.