Patience of Ice by Renate Wood

2000. 68 pages.

Triquarterly Books. Northwestern University Press.

From: A university library.

For the challenge:

VPR poetry reading challenge


I picked this book of poems randomly off the shelves because I liked the title and the description on the back, which reads in part: “Beginning with the sequence titled “German Chronicle,” Wood evokes her childhood in Germany during the Second World War, recording the war’s impact on the world in general and on her family in particular.”

This sequence did end up being my favorite.  Though I had moments of connection in the later poems, or admiration for a phrase or word choice, I found the subject matter of “German Chronicle” to be the most compelling.

Here is an excerpt from “German Chronicle” (sorry I couldn’t get the line spacing to be smaller):

8. Berlin: 1940/1945

I remember nothing of that city but a dead mouse

we buried together, how my mother scooped out a hole

in my grandfather’s garden and I placed the small corpse

inside, wrapped in its shroud of maple leaf.

How I filled in the earth until it made a mound

and marked it with a small oval of stones.

Later when we found out about my father,

how he had died in that city, I remembered

that mouse and how my mother had wiped the earth from the ring

on her finger so carefully.  Then I saw that soil

on the ring of his hand.  And he and the mouse

became inseparable, so when I thought of him walking through the streets

in those last days, there was always a mouse on the sidewalk

scampering ahead like a shadow before him.


Filed under Poetry

2 responses to “Patience of Ice by Renate Wood

  1. I’ll admit – as much as I love to read, poetry has a way of just flying right over my head. I think a lot of it is due to my own impatience, though. If I meditated on it longer, I’m sure would get more out of it.

    How do you read a book of poems? Do you stop after each one and re-read/reflect? Or do you go back to favorites after you’re done? Or can you pick up on the subtleties first time through?

    • Reading The Patience of Ice has actually been the first poetry book that I’ve read in a while. I read poetry in college. Now I feel all out of practice. In fact, I think I rushed through reading The Patience of Ice more than I should have.

      I suspect that for me, poetry is best read out loud or at least under my breath, because that slows me down and helps me appreciate the words and rhythm of a poem.

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