Reviewed by Sheri Harper
Whose Cries Are Not Music
by Linda Benninghoff
Whose Cries Are Not Music is a collection of poems by Linda Benninghoff in search of spirituality. Her voice is soft, many of her lines grabbing the attention and culminating in a statement about how she is feeling that is conveyed well to the reader. Many of the poems are quite sad and discuss loss or the approach of death and how a person felt or feels. The collection makes the statement that crying is part of music like a saxophone is to jazz. It makes you feel.
Her verse is in free form, but well polished and very readable. This collection is split into five sections, one wondering about death, one remembering the time when a child, one titled for Mary which feels as if it’s about Mothers or the Mother of God seeking comfort, one titled St. Paul Street, a place where the depressed are treated, and one titled After Death. My favorites have a floating sense of eternity where the poet has tied into a given moment as in the poem “Going for Chemo” starting with the lines “There was/ the silence/ of the pots/ after they were washed/ and put on the rack to dry.”
The poem for which the collection is entitled plays with the meaning behind the words in the opening lines with the insight that comes from contrasts of opposites as follows:
I come down to the dark, torn pond
to hear the geese
whose cries are not music, but
catch in my ears:
Silence often is present, adding thoughtfulness and holding space and aiding the music of the poetry, as in the case of “This Silence”
It is always the same silence I come to,
the silence of snow curving over a roof,
filling air, trees, wires, shutters,
I especially liked when Benninghoff reaches a moment of spirituality in “Dream” that has a happy, feel to it “… Your eyes quivering in the light / Where is God / But in a dream where / the light between us, always yellow …” hints that there is something more one can obtain beyond our life. These are the poems that help make the collection feel there can be happiness even in grief or loss because there is beauty in the moment.
Overall, this collection make quiet reading and captures wonderful moments.
About the reviewer: Sheri Fresonke Harper is a poet and writer. She’s been published in many small journals and is working on her second science fiction novel. See www.sfharper.com