Book Review

Liz Rhodebeck, Here the Water is Deep: Poems of a Middle-Aged Bride, Orange Hat Publishing, 2013

by Anjie Kokan

Liz Rhodebeck, an award-winning Wisconsin writer and author of What I Learned in Kansas, has released a new collection of poetry with Orange Hat Publishing.  The book, Here the Water is Deep:  Poems of a Middle-Aged Bride, brings us waves of fresh love poems that are original and timeless. A strong narrative poet who is true to her own life and the world she loves, Rhodebeck captures reality with striking imagery. While being honest to what it means to be middle-aged, she colors that world anew as she shows us how love can burn at any age. But nevertheless, there are certain things that one must risk in order for the possibility of love to occur. In her opening poem, “The Jumper,” Rhodebeck illustrates that vulnerability and fear “that she would fall crookedly,/that the target would be missed. . .” However, in the end, she realizes

she couldn’t feel
the lift of his laughter
unless she did, at last, jump.

While it is obvious the author is mesmerized by this new love, she takes that to another level in her poem, “The Look,” which shows how she is even more swept away when she notices the lover is also intrigued by her:

. . . I am the Lorelei struck mute,
the moth entranced by the evening streetlight, fluttering,
flustered by his unabashed gaze of wonder.

Though many of Rhodebeck’s poems are celebratory of romance and intimacy, she doesn’t gloss over the grief that comes to women in middle age. She is fair in acknowledging loss of the maternal power to bear children, but she comes to peace and shines the light on her situation as she speaks of the new virginity that fills her:

like moonflowers blooming in the dark,
you and I beginning at the ending
with a burst of color, the leaf before the bud

Rhodebeck ends her book with intimate glimpses of a life filled with a kind of love many of us dream of. In “Budget,” she contrasts the tangible things that must be budgeted,  “cream for you” and “tea for me,” with the abundance surrounding her like “the endless supply of desire in his eyes.” She ends the poem with a vision like a simple watercolor painting, yet powerful enough to linger in the reader’s mind:

a self-perpetuating investment
as we dip honeyed toast
into hot cups, and are grateful.

In Here the Water is Deep, readers will cruise through the excitement of discovering new love and experiencing mature romance at its best. Though this book is authored by a middle-aged bride, it is one that any romantic at heart will enjoy at any age. It may also give others the courage to leap into love themselves, and perhaps be lucky enough to, as Rhodebeck puts it, “sail to blind places/that only the heart can see.”

Anjie Kokan's office window overlooks Main Street where she can take in a glimpse of the village at any given time. She thanks her family, friends and community for inspiring her writing.  Anjie also hosts a blog with writing prompts to energize writers of all genres at