By Bill Frayer
Reviewed by Mel Goldberg
One of Ajijic’s most accomplished poets, Bill Frayer, has published a new book of poetry, Migration, which takes its place alongside his others, Sacred Lake and Agave Blood. This new book of poetry takes the reader on a journey similar to the one Frayer and his wife Pixie took when they “gave away most of their belongings, packed their car, and relocated” from Maine to a new life in Ajijic.
The book begins with Frayer’s amazement at the travel of the Monarch butterflies, “From Canada, you’ve made your flight;/primordial beacon led the way,/I pausing, breathless, drink in the sight.”
Yet Frayer’s theme is not merely about physical journeys. His poetry draws the reader into emotional and spiritual migrations as well. He shares his feelings about the pain and the joy of Mexico. In “Raspberry Boy” he tells us “[the boy] has old eyes/I buy his berries/but I want to know/his story. In “The Humble Tortilla,” he allows the reader to participate in his visit to “the small market” to buy tortillas, which he calls “the perfect food/connecting us now/scooping comfort and succulent sauce/tasting the spirit/of the ancient people.”
In “Mother Mexico” Frayer wants the reader to participate in the historic journey of Mexico with “the songs of the Indio/songs of hope, songs of loss” but that “she was strong/she survived to love again” even though there were “more tears and more blood,” Mother Mexico “sustain[s] her grandchildren/ who watch her with love.”
He reflects on the various qualities of absence in “Emptiness.” With Frayer we travel to modern Egypt in “From Pharo’s Grip” and to nineteenth century America in “Emerson’s Journey.” The spiritual journeys are examined “My Budda and “Being Lost.”
Like all good poets, he shares his innermost personal feelings of life and family. We learn of his loss in “I Miss You, Sister” as he writes of a sibling he never knew, and in “Absence,” he considers a world without him.
Bill Frayer takes everyday feelings and thoughts and elevates them to the realm of wonder, causing the reader to see beyond the ordinary and beyond the mundane to the extraordinary that hovers beneath every surface. He gives us poetry that examines life. One of my favorite poets, Leonard Cohen, said, “Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.” In Migration, we find the ash of a thoughtful life, a life filled with amazement. This is a book well worth reading many times.
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