Bles Chavez-Bernstein’s Without Rhyme: A Poet’s Story is a poetry collection that traces the poet’s journey from her rural childhood to her adulthood in a new country. The poems reflect a yearning, sensitive, and harmonious attitude toward living. Lovingly rendered, the book features several charmingly simple black and white illustrations throughout that provide a visual for the poem on the opposite page.
A wise spirit and sense of balance exemplifies the collection, which is especially graceful and gentle in its apprehension of its everyday topics, such as love, loss, motherhood, and finding one’s place in the natural world. Many poems contain earthy, sweet, domestic images, as in: “A pair of little hands/ gripping my hem,/ six little feet eager to run/ on a grassy path…” and “The aroma of rice steaming/ permeates the modest kitchen” in the poem “Coming Home.”
Often, nature receives lyrical treatment. “Perfection,” for instance, describes a metaphysical experience of nighttime sky-watching, ending on a note of wonderment: “At dusk, / a giant moonrise / sprinkles diamond lights / […] I am floating in space! / I see the blue of an endless dome […] / the sun glorifies space,/ priceless for its worth./ The same sun descends/ with its rays; splattered over my city/ in glorious crimson.”
In addition to the glories of life, Chavez-Bernstein examines some of its difficult moments: One poem addresses the anger her son suffers at the loss of his father; another, titled “Caregiver,” notes the struggles of someone fighting illness and the steady rhythm of patient care: “My hands are always free/ When you need them/ to set the clock of care,/ a meticulous regimen.”
These are engaging poems, with a speaker who is sympathetic and relatable. While the language is not especially surprising and the form shows little variety, those wanting to connect with a poignant, almost innocent voice, will find a kindred spirit in these pages.
Also available as an ebook.