A Review of Falling Forward by Rebecca Schumejda

Be warned that this review is entirely biased, as I’ve long considered Schumejda one of my favorite poets. And while this collection isn’t a recent release, harkening back to 2008, it remains a strong and influential collection of work. As with many of her poems, these document the intimate moments between people and in workaday settings, but at the same time lifting the casual veneer of life to peer at the inner workings of our hearts and minds.

As she notes in “Scrambled Eggs”: “We form at scrambled eggs / and one another’s intentions. Outside, saturated soil / leaves earthworms vulnerable: / the robins and clouds show no mercy.”

Schemujda is able to hint at so much here, and in different ways, all while using the simplest of scenes and images. A relationship over a meal may seems like simple parity of existence, small talk and planning, back and forth, but who among us has not sat across a table with someone we loved and wondered at the intention of this question or that, or wanted to ask something or gauge something without saying as much, all while eating scrambled eggs, delicate things we break apart and mix together to make something else, a symbol for a relationship if ever there was one. And then the worms, exposed to the rain and birds, the pieces of ourselves we reveal that become, it sometimes seems, picked apart and destroyed by life, love, and luck.

Throughout the two books in this one collection, one titled The Truth is Too Heavy, the other Two Hands Folded in a Prayer, Schumejda explores quiet little triumphs and tragedies, the subtle cracks that form in our psyche, whether at at church or work or while cooking dinner, and she shows how these cracks form craters, how these craters damage a landscape, or, depending on your view, add the beautiful scars that make a life true and real and worth living. Nothing is so subjective as how we each came to where we are now, but in Schumejda’s poems, we can find those quiet universal moments we all understand, run our fingers along those scars and nod.

- James H Duncan


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