Hole in the Head Review, November 2022
Lisa Zimmerman’s Sainted is a wondrous book, a composite of vignettes tendered to fashion a contemporary perspective on ancient figures. A feminist bravado, awakens voices to reclaim agency and power over one’s own body and soul— “What did God know about the uterus?” –These poems are timely, lyrical, meditative, and inventive. The poet excavates holy terrain, fleshes out Saint Veronica, Saint Clare, and Saint Bernadette, to remind us of the ache and splendor of living. The poet skillfully casts a wide net on the morality of the ages, invoking the many incarnations of greed, lust, loss and despair. Each poem marvels with luminous details of small moments, leading to the complex filaments of life: “No man would ever own me.” These fiercely evocative and revelatory poems, allow us savory glimpses under the seams, “the midwives came and went like weather.” A crucible, hot to the touch, Sainted could not be timelier in pathos, tone and tenacity. “I saw tears drop onto his tunic, / small moons of grief.” A stunning book that holds its heart out, Sainted is profoundly radiant and indelible for how poems can astonish, inform and shape our lives.
—Cynthia Atkins, author of Still-Life with God
For days she wore only the aqua sweatshirt
spaghetti stained with grimy cuffs,
the brontosaurus beaming out at us from her chest
the words EXTINCT IS FOREVER, which she cannot read,
floating below his happy face.
He is her friend
she wears him like an emblem
through the lacquered afternoon
stomping through the house, her private rain forest.
And we know as we watch her
that she expects to spot him at any time
around some corner, in the garden, or at least at the zoo
where surely all creatures are saved and celebrated.
How she would pat and embrace him
her hand a white leaf against his skin.
She would feed him bits of bread, rice, sliced banana, anything
to see him tremble with joy
down the length of his great uncomplicated body.
Then one morning she approached us
just risen from sleep and said “All the dinosaurs died”
with a grief so deep and pure we could only
nod and apologize and regret—
she learned so soon that what we love
moves on sometimes across the dreamy landscape
long before we ever hold it in our arms.
(from How the Garden Looks from Here)