As Earth Begins to End

Goedicke, Patricia

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Collection (Poems)

Annotated by:
Aull, Felice
  • Date of entry: Jul-17-2000


In this collection of new poems Goedicke presents us with a stark, frequently harsh, and uncompromising perspective on the relentless march of love and life toward death. Nature's rhythms--of the sea, the seasons, organic growth and decay--are both metaphor and reality as the poet takes note of changes in her mate and in their relationship against a backdrop of snow, night, natural and man-made disasters, and "lint and cat fur" ("What the Dust Does").

The book is dedicated to "Leonard," "for we who are one body." Many of the poems concern a long, deep, relationship, now become turbulent because of change: "Thirty years . . . now this // after hours of bitter contention / because nothing's right / anymore" ("The Things I May Not Say"). Two people who have been so close now face the inevitable but they are not fading happily into the sunset: "I know you'd mother me / forever, and I you, /but here, at the end of everything / we know // even the kindest / words scrape against each other like seashells" ("What Holds Us Together").

Yet there are times of pleasure and tranquillity: "everything we do, even the egg / sandwiches we eat stick to the ribs / like caviar: / because you make me laugh" ("Old Hands"). "For last night, in your faded photograph album of a voice, / you sang us both to sleep" ("Alma de Casa"). And where there is deterioration, there is also devotion: "The shell around us is cracked / and you're in my arms, shaking. Over the crumbling / excavations beneath us. Where I won't, / I will not drop you" ("The Ground Beneath Us"). "Children are coming to grief, / cars burning in the streets. / In the brightest light of all, / I would like to catch him when he falls" ("The Brightest Light").


These poems are complex, frank, disturbing, and moving. Goedicke confronts aging and loss head-on, without sentimentality. There is little about these processes that she finds redeeming, but she regards them as inevitable and natural. It is important for physicians and other caregivers to appreciate this view of diminished life and approaching death, especially when they are not comfortable with it themselves. Goedicke's representation of the communication difficulties that illness and aging present for even the closest of human relationships is also valuable.


Copper Canyon

Place Published

Port Townsend, Wash.



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