by Elaine S. Nussbaum
Scheduled Release Date: Aug 16, 2022
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The poems in Blood Moon recount the first eighteen months of the Covid-19 pandemic. Elaine Nussbaum’s personal narrative is interwoven with social issues, climate change, and astronomical events, such as the blood moon that occurred simultaneously with a blue moon on Oct 31, 2020. The titular poem from the collection pays tribute to Marvin Bell and his “Dead Man” poems—
All the dead people can’t live without you Marvin, and the live people cannot die
We are a country washed up on a beach after a shipwreck.
The tide is coming in, and the waves are getting closer
It is raining and we are naked…
Help will be coming in eighty days, but how do we get through this without eating each other?
The poems in Blood Moon are shards of light wrested from a dark and chaotic time in our history. Nussbaum journeys deep into our collective experience of the pandemic and emerges with poems of remarkable beauty and resonance. As the Covid death toll climbs, wildfires rage, and protestors clash in the streets, the poet struggles to make sense of the madness and draws strength and solace from the natural world: the changing seasons, cycles of the moon, and resiliency of wild creatures.
Nussbaum is a master of closely observed, finely rendered images: the feeling of a pinky finger grazing the back of a stranger’s hand; ivory-colored butterflies with two charcoal dots on each wing.
Though firmly rooted in a specific moment time, these poems are about more than living through the pandemic. They are about how to keep our hearts open and our spirits intact even when the world is burning down around us. This is a nightmare/ we will wake up from, she writes. The Rufus Hummingbird/ still searches for sugar water/ in the red-based feeder.
—Gwen McNeir, author of An Animal with Wings