Review by Lori Howe: Ain’t These Sorrows Sweet by Lauren Scharhag

In Ain’t These Sorrows Sweet, Lauren Scharhag invites readers into her hand, lifts us across space and time, and offers us the nourishment of memory cached in beans and light, in tomatoes and rosaries and barbacoa. She illuminates the crossroads of time and history and inheritance as they culminate in our own mouths and are stitched into our skins. In an elegant handful of words, she invites us inside her life: “I tasted time in each umami bite. I tasted 15,000 years…and though I am not full-blooded,/ I am full.” (“Sorting the Beans,” p. 3)

These are the poems of a woman who feels the weight of the past and the urgency of the now. As she reminds us in the fine poem, “Two Inches,” “We pass through the days like a funnel, not realizing/how it gets smaller and smaller towards the end,” and with this call to living our precious, fragrant lives, urges us to enjoy the treasure of love and intimacy in “Snow, Frost, Moon”: “We must not/waste these long nights./Silver dawn will find the thrash/of the snow angels we’ve left behind.”

This book is a feast replete with cilantro and the ache of women’s laughter, enough to sustain us through any unexpected bleakness, and back into the light, eyes afire, hungry.

—Lori Howe, author of Cloudshade: Poems of the High Plains (Sastrugi Press, 2015) and Voices at Twilight (Sastrugi, 2016). Founding Editor in Chief, Gleam: Journal of the Cadralor.

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