If There Is No Wind
by Margaret Sáraco
71 poems ~ 96 pages
Publisher: Human Error Publishing
To Order: https://linktr.ee/margaretsaraco
Reviewed by Michael Escoubas
Margaret Sáraco’s new collection takes its title from her poem, “If Wind Were Erased from the Earth.” As the poem draws to closure, Sáraco references a familiar song from the turbulent 1960s. Peter, Paul and Mary, had a hit that featured a classic lyric: The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. During the 60s, which I contend were far more contentious than the current post-Covid period, that line was on the lips of virtually every youth in the country. It was a time of testing, of soul-searching, like none other in memory.
I mention this only because the poetry of Margaret Sáraco resonates, oh, so strongly, within my heart. Of the 71 poems in the collection, I can’t think of a single poem I did not like. Each poem is substantive in content. Each is drawn, not from the perspective of privilege, but from a treasure chest of experience; no ivory tower here. This is down-to-earth, grab you where you live writing. Yet, she does it in a way that makes you want more of her insights.
As to style, Sáraco writes primarily in free verse. I have said many times that free verse isn’t all that free. Among other factors, the mature free verse poet is concerned with making good end-line decisions, cadence and rhythm and the employment of poetic devices within the text itself. “Invocation,” from late in the book, provides sufficient evidence:
My bulky blue heart hangs in my chest.
I shudder then shutter the windows,
Burrow beneath the knitted afghan.
My anguish bounded for now by these living room walls.
Set me free.
Let the birds carry my body above the salted sea,
Invite me to soar then dive like an osprey
looking for dinner, cutting the water,
swimming in warmth, bathing my afterimage away.
This thoughtful creation features alliteration in line 1, a subtle word-play in line 2, vivid imagery in line 3: “Burrow beneath the knitted afghan,” a brave open heart that is “bounded for now by these living room walls.” “Set me free,” is a cornerstone line from which the two couplets above and below gain their power. “Invocation” is more than just a catchy title; it calls on the force of poetry and nature to impart meaning to life. I’m reminded of a saying; Poetry helps us live our lives. Ample evidence of that in Sáraco’s work.
I don’t know if Margaret Sáraco is aware of the above-noted saying or not. Even so, it seems evident that poetry (whether writing or reading poems) is a bridge to the very heart of her life. One more illustration will make the point. In “Jesus Christ Moved Me,” Sáraco’s use of irony comes out. After being attracted to Christ through the ministrations of nuns who tutored her:
The nuns looked down on me, encased in cloth
I didn’t move, wondered
what kind of underwear they wore.
I wanted to dress like them
to feel the cloth draped around me
… … …
I looked when they weren’t looking at me.
In college I got my wish
I wore a nun’s habit in The Comedy of Errors,
underneath I wore bikini underwear.
If There is No Wind, gives readers different looks within the free verse genre: couplets, quatrains, irregular stanza breaks, occasionally, no stanza breaks. Never boring, Sáraco writes a short line, she writes a long line. Titles are important: “I Fell into a Painting While Reading the NY Times,” “Living in an Age of Fear,” “A Conversation on the Day of Your Birth,” “A Branch Like Poetry,” and, “Down the End of Linger Longer Road.” These titles did not disappoint.
This poet has something to say. Pick up a copy of If There Is No Wind. I promise, you will find something fresh, my friend, blowin’ in the wind.