Brad Buchanan's new collection of poems, "Swimming the Mirror" ($12 in paperback from Roan Press, email@example.com) is a small jewel of a book that illuminates the dad perspective. He teaches English at California State University, Sacramento, and these accessible poems, almost sixty of them, are by turns poignant, funny, and thoughtful.
Inside the womb, with "the white noise of corpuscles seething," "the kidneys' minuet," and the "bladder's pulse," "The unborn child conducts her own / orchestral suite, until she is born / and the roar of the universe withdraws. / The silence hurts so much she cries // for the whispers of the breast, the lost / percussion of love, The Planets by Holst, / and the tiny chorus of kicks from within / that strikes the triumphal march up once again." Such is "The Music of the Spheres."
Now she is here. There is "Quiet Alert": "Not sad, but crying, / the baby is signaling / her newfound needs-- / the world's in a holding / pattern, and knows it. / We work the angles / of blankets and breastfeeding, / tilt at the windmills / of burping, navigate / the pink circumference / under a diaper, / discover the truth behind / rumors of new uprisings / from the south, / decode the morsels / that drop from her mouth, / and then relax all the way / back to delight / seeing her eyes open, / quiet, alert."
A newborn, though, can take its toll on parents. Sometimes tempers become short, accusations fly, there's "Spilled Milk." ". . . An unfair response / becomes a negotiating position-- / and then, at last, as talks break down / and we are reminded of why we were lovers / before we were mother and father to one / helpless human being, now sleeping again, / we find spilled milk well worth crying over, / since nothing else matters at 2 A.M."
Later, "Her Fall": "She tumbled, / but the tears didn't come / until we found her / lying on her belly, / and picked her up to see / what happened, / why she couldn't fly."
In "Activity Report," "Somebody found an open box of cookies and was very happy." The reader will be, too.