In Reflections: Moments in Time, Joyce Henefield Coleman ponders her lived experiences and offers observations on many subjects, including faith, nature, inquisitiveness, aging, and mindfulness.
The collection contains 35 free-verse poems, a brief essay, and a note that introduces two theme-related poems. Its tone is optimistic, nostalgic, and contemplative. Some poems memorialize world events, such as “Notre Dame,” a veneration to the cathedral after it was ravaged by fire in 2019. Others commemorate history and place, as in “The White Scarf,” a remembered act of kindness during WWII, and “Spring Drive,” an homage to Texas’s early settlers.
Coleman’s Christian faith informs her worldview, and several poems extol the sacredness in the everyday. For example, “This Morning” exclaims, “How glorious and blessed I am/ Sharing a new day with my creator.”
“Growing Old,” “Another Time, Another Place,” “The World Is Changing,” and “Friends” comment on the defining moments of Coleman’s life and share insights about the passage of time. Some poems also show the speaker’s appreciation for nature’s bounty, featuring a grey fox, a persimmon tree, and seagulls at the shoreline, among other images.
The collection’s most affective offerings, “They Just Keep Coming” and “Hear Me,” are based on Coleman’s 20-year involvement with battered women and children and her experience as a battered woman. “They Just Keep Coming,” for example, begins with a poignant detail: “They just keep coming/ One after the other/ Some come alone/ Some bring children/ Often with a few belongings/ Usually in a black trash bag.”
While the poems are diverse, the collection suffers from repetitiveness, exposition, and stock phraseology. Words such as “beauty,” “joy,” “gift,” “challenges,” and “dreams” are overused; and lines like “How we use words affects our well being” (from “Words”) and “Life gives us possibilities and choices/ How we use them is up to us” (from “Choices”) read like empty platitudes.
Overall, the collection lacks artistry. Still, Reflections might attract readers who share Coleman’s Christian values.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.