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Inheritance of Aging Self by Lucinda Marshall

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 66 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

*** full disclosure: Lucinda, who is a member of my poetry workshop group, is a great mentor and a golden angel to poets in the poetry community***

Inheritance of Aging Self by Lucinda Marshall explores what it means to age, to see our ancestors in the mirror, and to make peace with the life we’ve led, left behind for others to make sense of, and the life we have in the present. Life is just one patchwork quilt, isn’t it? Yes, Lucinda is a quilter, a natural puzzle maker.

From "My Grandmother's Tea Cups" (pg. 1)

...
I see the you in me
as I become the wearer
of your papery skin,
an inheritance 
with its own design,

Patterns and textures take center stage in Marshall’s poems, weaving together a quilt her family will cherish always. But there are the emotional ties woven in each square, from the anger at aging and loss of youth to the acceptance of the multi-faceted you, a beauty beneath the perception of who you were then, like in “Mirror Image.”

Marshall says in “Contemplation of Succulence in Sonora”: “I do know that erosion changes us–// a whittling away, until only bones and distillation/ remain to provide the grounding” Some of us take longer to find our grounding, drifting from place to place, family to family, friend to friend, but these experiences eventually ground us in who we are and who we are not.

In this effort, we also need to learn how to create our own boundaries to preserve our mental well-being, like Marshall’s “I Do Not Ask” and “Serenity Prayer For Singular Existence” remind us. Boundaries are necessary to ensure burnout is kept at bay, that we can be our best selves when others need us, and that we can fulfill our own desires and dreams, even if others don’t quite understand.

Marshall’s collection hinges on the title poem, which comes midway through the book. Where the narrator comes to terms with aging and the potential for lost memory, lost sense of self, fewer days ahead. It is an unsettling moment when age becomes a reality you can no longer ignore. “she wonders what it feels like to be ashes,// what part of who she is will be left/,” says the narrator of “What Remains.”

Inheritance of Aging Self by Lucinda Marshall is about the universal, solitary journey we all travel on. Don’t be mistaken, we are journeying with our past, present, and future side-by-side and no one can reconcile those facets of our selves but us. We must come to terms with all that we are and what remains, what we leave behind, how others will know us and remember us, and what pursuits will be of greatest importance in our waning years. That “Unicorn” is in the surf, it’s just out of reach unless we’re willing to believe and lunge forth toward it.

RATING: Quatrain

Photo Credit: Jaree Donnelly

About the Poet:

Lucinda Marshall is the author of the full-length poetry collection, Inheritance Of Aging Self (Finishing Line Press,2021) and is available for purchase from Finishing Line Press, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. Marshall is an award-winning artist and writer whose poetry has appeared in Global Poemics, Broadkill Review, Foliate Oak, The Rising Phoenix Review, and Poetica, among others, as well as in the anthologies “Poems in the Aftermath” (Indolent Books), “You Can Hear The Ocean” (Brighten Press), “Is It Hot In Here Or Is It Just Me?” (Beautiful Cadaver Project), and “We Will Not Be Silenced” (Indie Blu(e) Publishing). Her poetry has won awards from Waterline Writers, Third Wednesday, and Montgomery Magazine.

She lives in Maryland and is the Founder of both the DiVerse Gaithersburg (MD) Poetry Reading, the Gaithersburg (MD) Poetry Workshop, and has served as a volunteer mentor for the Gaithersburg Teen Writing Workshop, part of a program run by the Maryland Writers’ Association.

Mailbox Monday #654

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has its own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Velvet, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

This is what we received:

Kaddish by Jane Yolen for Gaithersburg Book Festival.

Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, is recited in a time of deep sorrow. In it, the sacredness of the Almighty One is affirmed. In her new gathering of sixty poems, award-winning author Jane Yolen gives us a feminist view of Biblical themes and personalities such as Eve, Sarah, David and Goliath. The poems then morph into those about the Holocaust and after. Yolen’s unflinching and stark record of the many death camp horrors serve as reminders of that era’s brutality and the unrelenting suffering visited upon an innocent people. “Knowing means remembrance,” Yolen writes–as each poem becomes a memorial, a teaching, a warning for our and future generations. Her book concludes: “… no Jew truly escapes/that time, those places,/unscarred, unscathed./I have no numbers on my arms,/But I have studied the charts,/the cities, the deaths,/till I know them by heart.”

Inheritance of Aging Self by Lucinda Marshall, which I purchased.

Lucinda Marshall’s debut poetry collection, Inheritance Of Aging Self, explores our inherited understanding and experience of illness, death, grief, and sense of place.

In poems that she began to write during the final years of her parents’ lives, Lucinda Marshall’s debut poetry collection, Inheritance Of Aging Self, is an exploration of aging, illness, and death, as we witness them in the lives of our elders and loved ones, of grieving and ultimately the impact this heritage has on our sense of identity and place as we in turn age.

The title poem of the collection was included in the Maryland State Arts Council’s “Identity” exhibit in 2021 and “Winter Beach” was the first-place winner in Montgomery Magazine’s 2019 “Montgomery Writes” contest.

When Your Wife has Tommy John Surgery by E. Ethelbert Miller for Gaithersburg Book Festival.

Much-honored Washington, D.C. poet activist E. Ethelbert Miller delights and surprises us with his deft imaginings and portraits. Ethelbert’s poems play out in baseball rhythm and express the joy of living, despite the bitter challenges in today’s world. These poems define our time and allow us to see ourselves as human through the lens of baseball, family and music.

When Your Wife Has Tommy John Surgery and Other Baseball Stories is Miller’s second book of baseball poems. Here he touches new bases. There are poems about Marcel Duchamp and Ornette Coleman as well as Whitey Ford and Don Larsen. Miller’s poems move the outdoor game indoors where there are moments of disappointment and despair. Baseball can be a blues game. Tommy John surgery is a way of holding onto hope. Many of these poems were written during the Covid pandemic. They beckon fans back to the ballpark. They remind us to enjoy a game that is precious  and maybe even essential to our wellness. Coming after If God Invented Baseball, Miller seems to emerge from a literary dugout after a brief rain delay, ready to celebrate the American pastime again.

What did you receive?