“With a characteristically burly delicacy [Elizabeth Seydel Morgan] achieves a remarkable accuracy of perception which is the occasion, again and again, for her display of a fearless honesty of intellect and spirit. She can also be wry and sly and very funny—another indication of psychic robustness. ‘Come on, come in, / knock me out,’ she says in ‘Enthusiasm,’ and she does, too, in poem after poem.”—David R. Slavitt
The 180-year-old log house where Elizabeth Seydel Morgan wrote, or was inspired to write, many of the poems in this exquisite collection is on Long Mountain. Morgan’s On Long Mountain is a collection of the observations, reflections, and questions of a woman who has passed fifty—that signpost to everyone’s metaphorical long mountain.
Morgan’s relation with nature is never uninvolved with human nature. The fork of the Buffalo River that runs by her mountain retreat becomes, in “Letter to Conrad,” the forked tongue of the Arch-Seducer, while, in other selections, gnats foster thoughts of sex, summer heat summons Greek tragedy, two young stags connect with city violence. In “Moon Arrangement,” a woman considers her aging body: “And month after month that magnet moon / powers our dark waters / as if we were still an ocean.”
Morgan’s meditations on the past contribute a certain wistfulness to On Long Mountain: “This woven moment / holding time / around me like a nest”—but by the end of this poem, Morgan balances that emotion with acerbic humor. “Perseid Night” questions what is intelligible to our senses, asks what messages make meaning, and, finally, muses, “Are any getting answers beneath this no-show heaven?”
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