Poetry, Reviews

Review: Boyers, Honey with Tobacco

jacket imageRobert Pinsky recently featured Peg Boyers’ latest book of poems Honey with Tobacco in his “Poet’s Choice” column in the Washington Post. Pinsky writes:

Cuban life before Castro has supplied American poetry with rich, ambiguous material. An engaging, poignant group of poems in Peg Boyers’s new book, Honey with Tobacco, includes childhood memories of that time. Boyers declines mere nostalgia, as in this poem that scrutinizes pleasure-seeking, a leisured class, even memory itself, with a cool attention, analytical as well as sympathetic.…

It was a beach
like all beaches, only perhaps more beautiful.
And the sand was pink not red.
We would arrive in caravans,
hampers overflowing with food and drink
like Aziz and his party on the way to Malabar.
The colonials and their servants away on an outing.
We would stop under thatch umbrellas,
towels and tablecloths spread out against the sea.
My mother in her skirted swim suit
surrounded by fathers of other children,
her olive skin lit through her straw hat.
They would laugh and drink beer
and leer
while the children did the usual beach things,
boring futile tunnels to China, running
at waves and then away,
daring each other to be swallowed.
I would go out by the forbidden rocks and pick off oysters,
then give them to the men to pry open,
cover with lime juice and suck dry.
Once, I saw my mother sucking
an oyster out of another daddy’s hand.
Her dappled face bobbed and smiled and her tongue
searched the shell for pearls.
Update: Marshal Zeringue also graciously noted Boyers’s new book on his blog newreads.blogspot.com.