The Lost Country of Sight
Neil Aitken’s poems refine our sight. Instead of birds in flight, we survey “the dark exit of crows;” instead of nightfall, we witness “the stars slipping in / and settling down for the night.” All things are in motion. They travel across prairie landscapes, endless seashores, and the vastness of the skies. Travel enmeshes the reader in the passage of time, the trouble it makes, and the death it inevitably brings. Yet it also leads to mercy, memory, and love. Aitken’s vision seeks beauty in the concrete and discovers clouds “forming pearls” above Taipei. He sees ghosts whose presence enlivens grey shadows effacing stark boundaries: day and night, past and present, life and death. Loss lives in his poetic memory. The reader sees in the lines echoes of a father’s voice, the shriveling of aging bodies, and the fall of love’s “ashes . . . catching sunlight.” The soft light of memory illuminates eternal bonds never broken and connections never severed. As long as the words cling to the page, our eyes will see the pure depth of eternity. Family links Buddhism, mission, and Mormonism. Aitken’s poems bring them to our sight. The Association for Mormon Letters is pleased to present an award in poetry to Neil Aitken for Lost Country of Sight, published by Anhinga Press.