Lynda Hull, “Accretion” … the hum of spiders: an anthology of works and words

the hum of spiders:
an anthology
of works & words


Lynda Hull


Consider autumn,
    its violent candling
         of hours: birches

& beach plums flare harsh,
    chrome-yellow, orange,
         the dog zigzags the hillside

tangled with flaming vines
    to the pond below & barks
         at the crows’ reflected flight,

a reverse swimming
    among water lilies, that
         most ancient of flowers

anchored by muscular stems
    in the silt of cries
         & roots, tenacious as the mind’s

common bloom, remembered men
    I have touched at night
         in the room

below the African painter’s
    empty loft, his few abandoned
         canvases, narratives

of drought & famine, of how
    his people, hands linked
         entered the deepest cave,

the unbearable heart
    of belief where each gesture
         encloses the next—clouds

packed densely as ferns, becoming
    coal, the final diamond
         of light, the god’s return

as rain, its soft insistence
    loosening the yellowed hands
         of leaves that settle

at my feet. How expendable
    & necessary this mist
         in my hair, these jewels

beading the dog’s wet coat.
    How small I am
         beneath this vast sway.


Lynda Hull is, for me, the strongest poet of post-World War II America. Her voice blends well a raw view of the world with a perfect control of poetic form. She is in the tradition of Dickinson, Crane, and Bishop. Hull’s language is a great cauldron of empathy, pathos and beauty. To read Lynda Hull is to enter and to know her world. It’s an insider’s view.

“Accretion” is a representative work, expressing her depth and love of language. Her sense of landscape – even when fusing disparate places – is clear and connected: hillside colors, painter’s canvas, pond, reflection of crows, flowers, apartment, bodies, cave. Mist on the hair, mist on the dog’s coat, the clouds. The touch at night – created by a series of connections: leaves, vines, sex – becomes a trope for the creative force of the artist, of the poet. Life is at work in darkness – below the pond’s surface, on the empty canvas, inside the cave. The progression of images in the poem’s second half is amazing – clouds to fern, coal to diamond to light. This shift is in preparation for the rain with “its soft insistence / loosening the yellowed hands / of leaves”. Hull then focuses the reader’s attention on the speaker’s feet – another image that expresses change, shift, and understanding.

Hull’s gift as poet is evident in lines such as “the unbearable heart / of belief where each gesture / encloses the next”. There is no need to comment. If the reader is patient, the voice is as effective a mentor as one could ever hope to have.

The closing lines echo my own being: “small … beneath this vast sway”.

~ by samofthetenthousandthings on January 1, 2016.

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