Welcome To The Unknown
By Rosemary Dineen
Reviewed by Patricia Hemingway
Rosemary’s age, by her own admission, is 79, and the book’s 83 poems have all been written during the past two years of her life spent in Ajijic. The poems are primarily written in-the-moment. She reflects on a mosquito landing on her arm, or the maid who has become a dance partner, or the mud on her own shoes as she wanders into a church wedding.
Welcome to the Unknown might have been titled “Tapestry.” Some might say this is the book’s weakness: many poems a thin slice of a day’s life. I would suggest otherwise. Read the book from beginning to end, and what will emerge is a weaving together of images that play with one another in the mind of the reader and provide a thoughtful and original experience.
Rosemary recently gave her first reading, and it was her humor that brought down the house. One of the salient qualities of her work, humor is expressed perfectly in “It’s Alright to Die.” Here is the chorus (meant to be sung): It’s alright to die./ Bodies come and bodies go./ It’s alright to die./ It just might make you feel better.
Life and Death and New Beginning are two of the most powerful sections of Rosemary’s book. She speaks about the fall she took last year, cracking her pelvis, in “The Filly:” First out of the gate, yes I am./…Fattened, toned, groomed. This is my moment./ I fall./ In one moment I become/ an old mare put out to pasture.
In “Staying Alive,” her humor re-emerges in a moment of crisis after the injury. In pain, stuck in traffic as her taxi breaks down, she writes: Vickie, the nurse from Ajijic/ comes to the rescue/ Spreads three floor mats over the stones/ for my transfer to her car./ Hospital gown, blue dotted/ One size fits all, unisex/…flutters in the hot noon breeze./ Vickie’s goal is clear, keep Rosemary’s backside covered./ My thought: why don’t I moon all of Guadalajara.
I sent Welcome to the Unknown as a birthday gift to my sisters (and I would recommend readers consider purchasing extra copies for friends and family). Here is a portion of my sister’s review:
“What hope she gives to me, that I need not fear aging or change or uncertainty, quite as much as I used to.”
(Ed. Note: The book is available at Diane Pearl’s and from the author for 150 pesos.)