Book Review

Stealing Daylight by Nydia Roja. Flutter Press, 2009. $6.50

Reviewed by Marie Loeffler


...I hear the music.  I feel the trembling
of the notes as they travel the brevity
of their freedom, and I remember
the constant moves and shifts
of everyday life, how time can only offer
what it has-brevity

how close we live to smile and tears
planning always for one but getting
both in the mix.  The balance of the two
governed by luck—

and as the music sets free its last
notes—how the violin comes forward
then begins its journey toward silence
until the next time a pair of hands
picks up the notes again

and again the notes will travel
the space surrounding them, indifferent
to how similar or different that space is—

my presence not required
or expected.  (“Not Required,” 23-24)

A tender appreciation for nature radiates in Nydia Rojas's philosophical yet gently artistic writing where existence is portrayed as a grand, intriguing puzzle rife with daily reexamination.  Time passes—growth cycles, seasons, and life pulse onward—and we all must accept then embrace senescence, finding joy amongst quotidian routines.  Rojas's poetic strength lies in inquisitive observation, in being present as she digs her hands into the earth, creating a vivid literal cornucopia of ideas and imagery.

With sophisticated sensuality, Rojas describes her love of cultivating:  

...We had plowed the land and tended to the seeds
we had planted in late spring.  We had followed
the changes of orange blossoms as they
opened, then closed, leaving us in return
the winter squashes.  They glistened among
the leaves after each rain fall.

...we sat at the dinner table—steaming
rich orange squash, chard steamed and drizzled
with olive oil and toasted almonds, slices
of melon and plump strawberries transformed
into delicious center pieces that never lasted long. (“Incomplete,” 7)

Following this feast and celebration, joy is replaced by angst:

...we detected an emptiness lingering with
the delectable aromas that so deeply
had intertwined with our lives.

The harvest season over we craved
for more lasting colors, we craved the softness
of the petals of a newly opened flower,
we craved new shapes all being
the same and yet so different. 

With an apt description of autumn's brusqueness, Rojas further develops a theme of abundance leading to regret then optimistic acceptance:

The bravado of the wind sets in motion
the chimes still hanging from a hook
on the back porch, furiously rushes through
branches, through the leaves
changing colors almost as quickly
as the wind resettles them on the branches

but quietly.  Birds and geese
have almost completed their migration
to warmer and more lively terrains.

...Like the leaves, I'll patiently wait for the sunlight
to complete the journey it must complete.

I will patiently wait for the sunlight to return
and unveil the ample fields
the gray sky is now hiding.

The wind briefly displays its bravado
again.  A shower of glowing leaves cascade
toward the ground and a new crop of leaves
piles on top of last autumn's leaves solemnly
taking its place in the continuum of time. (“October Morning,” 22)

“Stealing Daylight” is brief like a Northern summer—just sixteen poems total—but Rojas's writing leaves much to ponder, drawing one in for multiple readings.  Her philosophical musings transcend the whole of existence with lyrical lines that wrap and weave like the intricate notes of a sonata, savored by anyone who craves graceful, artistic depth.   

Marie Loeffler is a Wisconsin poet, violinist, and private violin instructor who spends most of her free time practicing, writing, reading, and creating. Her poetry publications are current or forthcoming in Echoes, the WFOP Spring 2010 Museletter, and the 2011 Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar. Her poetry was first published in Verse Wisconsin #102.