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Across My Kitchen Table
Shared only among friends for years,
my poems now travel to strangers.
Not without trepidation, I offer each one
as I would a cup of coffee to a guest,
hoping words will heal broken hearts
while we unravel our webs of grief.
This is a small book for the small hours when we sit alone in the dark or feel as though our grief isolates us. Although we all travel sorrow's path at some point in our lives, many of us walk that road alone and bewildered, failing to reach out to grasp the waiting hand of a fellow traveler.
In the months following her husband's sudden death, Sally Rosenthal explored her reactions to loss and came to realize that strength is a synergetic wisdom woven from the love passed on through the examples of relatives and beloved animals. In poems and prose, she shares what she has learned about survival and resilience. Come sit with Sally at her kitchen table and share the journey.
All proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to Guiding Eyes for the Blind.
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From a review by Lynda McKinney Lambert, February 2023
(Excerpted by Leonore Dvorkin, Editor, DLD Books)
The Introduction provides insight into the author's themes in this collection: aging, caregiving, circumstance, loss, and living alone.
In her intimate opening poem, "Across My Kitchen Table," Sally presents her poems as gifts to the readers.
"Kathleen in 1927" is the first introduction to her mother. The inspiration for this poem was a photograph of her mother at age 11, taken in England. This is the beginning of a thread of memories of her mother that Sally weaves through the entire book. There are other family members we meet as we continue reading.
The fact that the memories and reflections are not in chronological order is refreshing. Memories are like that. They come and they go, like waves on the seashore. They wash over us in layers and are timeless.
"Penny Candy" is a poem that many senior citizens will love. Here, Sally is a small child who walks with her grandfather to a candy store. The image that is so memorable is that final line, when she takes the "small brown bag filled with love" in her hands.
In the poem "Solace," Sally recounts the final days of her mother's life. Several more poems focus on her relationship with her mother. This thread of goodbyes is like stitching an embroidery picture made of poems as we come near the end of her mother's life.
A memorable poem concerns a premonition that Sally had when she lost her wedding ring one week before her husband died.
As the book ends, Sally shares her days of contemplation and loneliness after her husband's death. This is so relevant, as most women will live longer than their husbands and find themselves living alone in their final years. In particular, Sally found solace in music. She shares two pieces of music that comforted her.
Lynda McKinney Lambert is the author of Songs for the Pilgrimage and two other books of poetry, essays, and photos of her art work. You can find details of her books at https://www.dldbooks.com/lyndalambert/
Sally was interviewed for the Behind Our Eyes podcast. To listen to the interview, click here.
Born prematurely in 1952, Sally Rosenthal survived a stroke in infancy and lost her vision slowly from complications of retinopathy of prematurity. She is also, without hearing aids, profoundly deaf due to age–related genetic hearing loss. A former academic librarian and occupational therapist, she now writes for a variety of online and print publications. A vegetarian and staunch animal rights advocate, she lives with her cat, Tamsin, in a large East Coast American city but dreams of waking one morning in a cottage on the north coast of Cornwall.