Francine Marie Tolf’s poetry is like the leaves she describes in one of her poems:
“green fire in morning sun.” Spill Some New Brightness opens in a place where grief
and gratitude walk hand in hand: “Sometimes something wonderful occurs, / a sister
you thought exotic but brittle / becomes your best friend, maybe through / mysterious
and troubling circumstances. Maybe / she has a breakdown. Speaks with demons. /
Walks through bright and terrible fields.” (“Sometimes”).
In this spiritual gathering of pain, love, beauty, and injustices, devastating moments
surface: “I thought of that immigrant woman clutching her child / as ice-black water
rose, the merciless moment / she had to breathe ocean into her lungs / and I said
out loud, Where were You? / How could You let this happen? / No answer except diamonds
sparkling on lake water.” (“Hidden Beach”).
We spend time with women, sisters, mothers, people on the bus and in the grocery
store, assisted living patients, children, trees, tiger lilies, “mallard ducks swimming
in melted snow puddles.”
Tolf gives us the beauty of ordinary but dazzling moments: “Blinding white, the sudden
wings beat / in front of my windshield, as if / the gull had dropped from a horizon
/ of sapphire sea and chalk-bright cliff / instead of this dreary March sky / hanging
low over a parking lot edged / with a Dollar Tree, a Taco Bell, / black-crusted snow.”
(“Transfiguration in North Minneapolis”).
Compassion for animals, strength from nature, a community of gratitude to help heal
and experience a whole life … these are the gifts Tolf offers to readers in her latest
FRANCINE MARIE TOLF’s poems and essays have been published widely in journals both local and national. She has received two Minnesota State Arts Board Grants and grants from the Elizabeth George and Barbara Deming Foundations. Francine lives and works in Minneapolis.