An Angel in My Garden
by Mart Grams

"I am what I was; I will be what I am.
For I am of the past, now will be the clay of/the future."

Gram’s poetry commemorates the life of his wife by providing a glimpse into his life before they met, during their three-plus decades of marriage, and following her passing. By combining structured poetry with narrative prose, Gram allows readers get to experience both raw emotion from the speaker as well as background context that brings life to the poems. Because many of the poems are taken from old love letters, the image of the speaker’s tears falling on old love letters is particularly striking and heart-wrenching.

Poems like “Growing Old” capture the universal sentiment toward the inevitability and uncertainty of death. Similarly, “Grandfather” and “Time” put life, and specifically the fleeting nature of time, in perspective. Probing questions inquiring whether wisdom is a blessing or curse stand out in these poems. The poems in Spanish are particularly riveting and reverent toward his wife, whose beauty is compared to a goddess. Whether it is in “Cuando La Veo,” “El Amor,” or “El Soñador,” the image of the starless night where he sees a vision of beauty personified is particularly captivating.

Much of the poems establish a strong rhythmic cadence that renders the flow of the poetry aesthetically pleasing. Both “How Much Can I Love You?” and “Two for the Price of One” are spectacular odes to his love, where the adoration is evident with phrases such as “I adore thee / more than ripe rose is red.” Even in search of meaning after the passing of his love, the speaker celebrates love in “What’s the Good?” by reminiscing on the memories that gave birth to the love in the first place. The poet’s heartfelt collection is authentic to its core, with poems that help audiences understand that while the timeline may not necessarily be controllable, giving and receiving unconditional and everlasting love is.

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