When Snow Walks In
by Christine Candland

"Just sitting there.
Looking forward to a murky pancake
and syrup that stares back from a small
stainless pitcher -
when Snow walks in."

Like the title poem in this short and elegant collection, the other pieces also describe the extraordinary amidst everyday scenes and in understandable prose and sparkling details. Simple things like utensils, road signs, trinkets at a thrift sale, and foods convey the feelings surrounding memories. Compassion and empathy are immediate responses to such straightforward expressions of emotion. Like Snow, the tantalizing newcomer to the scene in the title poem, the poems invite the reader into an elevated experience of humanity through captured impressions.

The poems take place in California and Europe. Nearly all are a single page in length, with ample space between the lines for absorption and reflection. The book's pacing is measured and relaxed, a welcome break from busyness. Scenes of sand dunes and gardens are like a vacation without going anywhere. The muse is a frequent character connecting the narrator across time and space to ancient works of art and to her own work as a writer and artist.

Candland imagines watching figures in paintings coming to life, as in "Lady Godiva." Snow is another instance, inspiring as well as mystifying her secret admirer and observer. Recollections from childhood show the narrator developing keen powers of observation. In "Dad's Typewriter," Candland remembers playing with the tool, while it also becomes a loaded symbol for the power of art later in life. Simplicity betrays life's complexities in Candland's crystalline prose, as innocent girlhood moments are looked back on with adult eyes. The poems push boundaries by putting two seemingly unrelated events side by side. For example, in "Lodestone," a mugging is juxtaposed with marveling at a gem. These parallels open the reader up to wonder and marvel, with fantastical elements embedded in daily life.

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