Standing Afar, Atop a Hill
by R. D. Hohenstein

"The elusive memories
Of bygone years
Leap out
And beg you to remember"

Memories, meditations, and people—real and imagined—are the elements in this moving collection. Hohenstein offers brief but vivid pictures of the natural world, brave hopes for the future, sighs for the passing of years, and the occasional expression of admiration, as in this tribute to “Nelson Mandela”:

"Yes, this man showed us how to heal
The wounds his person bore
And how to reconcile the past
And live for so much more."

Though little information is offered about Hohenstein, one suspects he may have been a teacher, to judge from this empathic viewpoint of students set forth in “Teacher’s Lament”: “And I hurt with them / Even though / I know / They must suffer more.” In “The Old House,” a ninety-two-year-old widow returns at times to the now empty house where she relives the seventy-one years spent with her husband. Watching a fledgling take wing expresses “Our Silent Need to Soar.” Meanwhile, a prose piece, “Acorns,” amusingly depicts a daughter griping about her mother’s obsessions as she carefully sorts the laundry into piles by garment and color.

Hohenstein’s gift for poetry is plain to see in this slim volume. Almost every familiar subject of that form is touched upon: the fragrance of a rose, the placidity of an open bay, the gentle comfort of rain, the poet’s ability to analyze himself, personal reminiscences, and the ultimate futility of war. He displays the art of storytelling in both rhyme and free verse: a ball game lost in a single, final-seconds kick; a chance meeting with a smiling mime who insists on visiting, and healing, someone in failing health; the thoughts evoked by a kneeling lady who must give herself in an arranged marriage. His works speak for themselves and their composer. Anyone who appreciates well-constructed, well-felt poems will enjoy them.

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