Reshaping the Light is a collection sprinkled with particles of light. Joyce’s belief in its precious power to illuminate emotional spills, to create a shield against darker shades is an integral element in these poems. Mined from experience, history, mythology and the natural world, life’s complex dualities are sieved through finely tuned ‘words weaving possibilities out of the shadows’ (Murmuration, i.m. Seamus Heaney). Sensory perceptions startle imagery into memorable territory, ‘big showy cones/of white and blue,’ (A Bunch of Lilac) or ‘a harvest moon holds us in its yellowed glow’, (Noctiluca). There are many such glints. Indeed, the poet at times reveals a sacred connection.
She anoints the poems with phrases such as ‘like a thurible’ or ‘scent the air with incense’ (The Bee-Smoker). Joyce’s lyrical aesthetic moves within the natural world with ease; personifying nature in lines such as ‘Sunflower heads, heavy and low,’ or ‘A wasp taps at the windowpane,’ (Hiatus). There is no light without dark, inevitably evoking the urge to ‘resist the weight of the eyelid dark’ (Hiatus). When loss occurs and ‘apples quickly rot and are ripe with death’ (Lucia), Joyce finds solace in mythology, taking her to Demeter pleading with Hades ‘to rebirth,’ (Lucia). She bears witness to the horrors of war. In a searing testimony to man’s inhumanity, a visit to the Jewish Museum in Berlin tells how ‘we walk on the faces of the dead, (Mute) and how ‘a baby’s mouth unopened, no cry uttered’ tells ‘their frozen story,’ (Mute). The cycle of life, the resilience of nature to reshape ‘when the sky spills rain,’ (Pearls) is the hallmark of a keen sensibility, an aware observer as a poet and a human being, attuned to the moment when ‘something flutters beneath my breast’/released beyond blue pages.’ (Aerogramme)
- Eileen Casey