Marianne Werner is a retired Butte College English instructor who writes that "I have always felt more at ease sitting under a tree (or in one) than sitting in a chair made from a tree. In nature is a world far more perfect than we humans seem able to sustain, and I am continually awed by the ingenuity of its adaptation and its beauty." Long a poet, when she took up photography she realized words and images could combine in a "thematic closeness."
Her work is on vibrant display in "Simple Images: Nature Poems and Photographs" ($16 in softcover, self-published, available from SimpleImagesBook.com or from Lyon Books in downtown Chico). The twenty poems and associated images (some taken from locations in Chico, some from Oregon, Costa Rica, Honduras, Ireland) weave together the story of a poet's delight and even astonishment at the natural world.
In "Concert of Plants," the writer is in Mexico, at the Charco del Ingenio Botanical Gardens, where "The Plasmath Lute shivers sounds, / eerily beautiful. ..." Electrodes are connected to cacti, where "plant signals translate into music, / simple chords seeping throughout / their joined familial roots. // I don't believe this, / but I see it happening."
In "Wild Lupine," "Against the mottled snow / and green hills of Lassen, / an enormous purple shawl / of wild lupine smothers // the hillside. The switchback / trail turns us through / acres of lavender--lighter, / darker, lighter blossoms // until we are in the center / of such an explosion / that we are wordless."
"In midwinter," the poet writes in "Flight," "I hear sounds / from above, sounds of wild / geese pulsing and honking / in patterns of flight. // ... I watch, incredulous, / not at their instincts pulling / toward a particular / destination--rather, / their spacing, exact // in its precision of distance, / wing tip to wing tip. ..."
Somewhere else, a heart flower opens, "its surface posed / like dappled silk-- // while I watch and marvel." Everywhere there is something to cause wonder. In "Sanctuary," "Thousands, thousands of pure / white snow geese have arrived / on this bright November day, / feather cuddling each other, / idling so far across dark lagoons / that I could walk shore to shore / upon their soft curved backs."
The images evoke wonder as well, portraits of a world the poet longs to embrace, and does.