Book Review: Marrow of Summer

Marrow of Summer
by Andrea Potos

Kelsay Books, 2021

Reviewed by Kathleen Kirk, EIL Poetry Editor

It’s late summer now. Already a few yellow stars from the sweetgum tree have fallen on the still-green lawn. It’s a glorious blue-sky day with small white clouds, and I’m sucking the sweet marrow of summer from these poems. That title phrase, “marrow of summer,” is embedded in the poem “Where to Find Them,” about memories. In “Creating,” Andrea Potos compares her own art to her grandmother’s art as a seamstress:


     I make small stitches of words across paper
     that, sometimes, feels like rough cotton,
     sometimes like silk.

I love the accessibility of these poem—the clear, simple language, the helpfulness of commas, of sentences.

As I read, wind is rushing through the branches, making the wind chimes sing. Is it rushing fall my way? But, no, there’s a hummingbird dipping into the purple phlox! Just as one dips into columbine, in spring, in Potos’s poem “Visitation.”

Potos has watched birds build nests in spring. She has imagined Heaven, with Monet “offering a bouquet of water lilies splashed / with water and light.” She has been “lifted / like a gift, shining, / from the box of [her] life” in “Weekend Away,” as I re-read her poems on a weekend at home. Here’s a short one, in full:

     Writing at Home with Emily D.

     The quiet with a presence
     as if stillness were its spine—
     a discipline erect
     that grants me moments
     and words as eternity.

I think all the seasons are here, somehow, though mostly summer and spring, or summer remembered in winter…. In “Being a Spider,” it must be September, yes, as it is now, the season of spiders and their webs. And in “Visiting the Graves,”

                                         the air is thick
     with song—cicadas strumming in tall oaks,
     their insistence of late summer leaving.

Cicadas are insisting right now, as I read outdoors. But as the seasons change, and the winter comes, I hope I’ll recall “Gratitude on a Winter Morning,” how “even

     to murmur the word summer right now makes me remember
     how every moment we are on our way there.


Andrea Potos at EIL

Review of Andrea Potos’s Mothershell at EIL

Andrea Potos reading from Marrow of Summer on YouTube

Marrow of Summer at Kelsay Books

“The Word Heart” by Andrea Potos in Poems on Poetry 2020 at EIL



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.