In Fearing Water, Saiser unflinchingly depicts the evolution of a challenging parent-child relationship; each poem is rich with emotion, observation, and Saiser’s steady voice, and serves as a counterpoint to the scene described in the opening poem, “Holding Out.” Here, the mother’s refusal to voice an opinion about whether she’d like to see a movie—or to speak at all—creates a tight whirlpool of longing and dread that threatens to pull the family under. Ultimately, this unspoken tide resolves as the speaker ages and becomes the caretaker, rather than the child, and Saiser’s voice moves nimbly from the frustrated anger of youth to acceptance, and even transcendence. Let us teach / one another, the speaker says to her mother in “Fearing Water,” become a species with fins. / Fear is the watery thing in which we swim.
Marjorie Saiser’s most recent books are Beside You at the Stoplight (The Backwaters Press, 2010) and Losing the Ring in the River (University of New Mexico Press, 2013). Her poems have been published in Prairie Schooner, Crab Orchard Review, Cimarron Review, Field, Nimrod, burntdistrict, and bosque, as well as the anthologies Women Write Resistance and Becoming: What Makes a Woman.
Mother, you feared
a day of swimming,
the river brown under its trees,
slow under the brow of its bank.
It was channels in any form
Let us teach
become a species with fins.
Fear is the watery thing in which we swim.