This Far from the Source: “In mature meditations, in sharply detailed memories, in muscular free verse and lightly worn habits of descriptive verve, Shepard manages to make the world his subject – from the racial conundrums of the South, to the habits of birds, to celebrations of an aging father and the birth and growth of a daughter. There are moods and tones – philosophic, emotional, humorous, skeptical, assertive, self-deprecatory – that broaden his poetic range, sharing his sense of the life journey as a voyage of discovery, as an adventure in which the imagination is our best means of responding to whatever life offers, especially when distance from ‘the source’ is a palpable fact.” (Eamon Grennan)
Golden, Cortland, Empire,
even crab – in short,
she’ll grab them all, my small
girl-child, in or out of season –
clutch summer’s hard greens
or cradle fall’s red survivors,
wormholes and all, she’ll call them
her windfall, her doctor-a-day.
I’ll call them her healthy
curiosities, her tongue’s delight.
No wonder she wonders at their maker:
who cast the first seeds out
with a generous hand,
who colored the blossoms
white then tinted their insides pink?
No wonder she’s grown curious
and quick, sexual and rebel,
until she preempts all commands
from her father and orders him about:
that one, that one, no, that one!
In short, she’s defenseless
against wonder, against inquisition’s
pitfalls, that is, the Fall
into the Pit. Defenseless against apples
laced with law, or poison, or worm’s
rotten intention. In short, her four
earth years have not prepared her
for clay’s desire, air’s shimmer,
water’s oscillation, fire’s agitation.
In short, she’s sinking
her teeth into the green world.