In the Carnival of Breathing

poetry by Lisa Fay Coutley

“You might say this is about held breath & swift kicks
but don’t confuse it with the movement of a stream
or river. Pull a sweep-net through a childhood & lift
an armada of leeches from a pond fixed, virus to fish…”
from “Staying Afloat” (p. 9)

The language of water flows through the pages of Carnival, rushing and surging & rising and ebbing,
teasing the reader with hints of the treasure buried within each image.  The 2009 Black River
Chapbook Competition winner, this tiny collection has a big voice and its message seems to be:
Life’s tough, but follow the drift and prepare to be amazed.

According to Coutley’s poems, from the moment we give up amniotic fluid for air (think: primordial
ancestors crawling out of the sea onto land), like it or not, we are signed onto the human carnival ride
of life.  But have no fear, we humans toughen up to meet the challenges, and we learn to adapt.

“…My lake doesn’t take any shit. She wears
stilettos in ice storms, does crosswords in pen.
She eats red meat. Her porch needs painting,
her flowers need weeding, but my lake reads
palms in twelve different languages…”

from “My Lake”  (p.14)