After successfully publishing more than 40 poems in anthologies and journals, Rae Marie Bruce has self-published her first book of poetry, titled This Glorious Disorder. It is a well-thought-out, loosely categorized collection of reflections on family, history, place and art. Through her poetry, we see her life in all its glorious disarray: women gossiping in the kitchen, a father gone to war, an aunt whose sheer physical presence alone demands a response, marriage and the devastation of divorce, loss in all forms, whether seasonal, tangible or personal.
In “The Raft Ritual,” for example, she writes, “We rock the raft with our scrubbing / and speak the shorthand of old friends. No explaining names or family ties– / just stories that roll from our mouths as smoothly as the board cleaves water, / leaving two waves foaming behind.”
Through such evocative language, Bruce allows us to experience her longing for those who once were vibrant and influential in her life, and to watch as she lets them go by embracing their legacy as part of her own. One feels attached to characters who rise up from her memory and fade into history with the end of the poem. And throughout, there is always the thread of delight and wonder woven into the poetry.
With a skillful and gentle approach, Bruce has held the confusion of our sometimes-banal human experience and turned it into a beautiful mystery worth pursuing. Like those waves lapping at the raft in “The Raft Ritual,” we hear that hope in times of sorrow, and the final conclusion: it was all worth it.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.