Resource Publications, 88 pages | Published September 29, 2023
My use of the word “love” is such that its meaning can get muddled. I make grand and profound statements modeled after John’s first epistle, claiming that “God is love,” “love abides,” and “all you need is love” (well, maybe that last one is from a different John… or was it Paul?). But I also say things like, “I love the way you smell today,” “I absolutely love the color they painted their front door” and “I love this taco so much I want to eat its babies!” I use “love” as a catchall for positivity, which is a shame given the depth that love can express, the effort love can entail, and the pain that love is capable of causing.
I use the word “love” freely, openly and frequently. I assume that anyone hearing (or reading) my use of the word will understand exactly what profound, positive, deep, effortful or painful layer of meaning I intend. I use the word intuitively, reflexively, on impulse. It’s love.
Garrett Mostowski’s new collection of poems, Lunations, forced me to consider my use of this word. Using the cycle of the moon’s phases as a guide, Mostowski exposes the reader to experiences with love that weave a complex picture of hope and despair. Rather than resting on an assumption of meaning, Lunations forces us to slow down and look deeply at how we communicate and form meaning around love. Love is a surprise, a mess, a reason for experiencing pain. The reader is an observer: a witness to Mostowski’s ongoing conversation with himself, those he loves, and the poets, theologians, and beloved influencers on his life. The work sets out to force the reader to slow down and contemplate the workings of love in their life, and it succeeds in this endeavor.
Mostowski’s gift is his ability to notice. His poems often pulled me into wondering about the specificity or absurd abundance of a thing, often contrasting one against the other. The language of each poem is rich in detail and full of action. Occasional and subtle repetitions reward the observant reader of the whole collection. There’s a keen awareness of the shape of each poem, whether it is in service to the shape of a cityscape or the pace of the author’s voice. The line divisions drop emphasis while the scant and poignant punctuation percuss the beating rhythm of the read (these poems read well out loud). My mouth enjoyed shaping the words as much as my brain enjoyed the task of holding them.
Even folks who aren’t keen on poetry or poetic language can appreciate Mostowski’s invitations to ponder, “if the only question is/ how to love a pale blue dot/ someone should admit/ some of us simply/ can’t.” The book invites deep consideration of what it means to be human, to be mortal, to be lovers.
While the book has power as a whole, moving through the moon’s phases with recurring voices from the “captain’s journal” and things “overheard onboard,” little nuggets like “the truth” and “space walk(s)” stand out as individual works. Either of these poems is enough to fuel a day’s meditation, weaving references to sacrament and Scripture with longing and mystery.
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