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In this collection, the author continues to widen her search to see the beauty in the world around her, tiny trout lilies beside a creek, a slender palo blanco in her sister’s garden, or in the sky as she tries to name its color. But even as she sees beauty, she struggles to understand the world’s brokenness: mistreatment of native peoples, the murder of Jesuit priests in El Salvador, war and terror across the globe. She writes from the solitude of the desert while her heart and mind travel in the world of ideas.
In 2015, Coffeetown Press published Morefield’s first poetry collection, Earth, Grass, Trees and Stone. The final poem in that collection, “Requiem,” was set to music for the Susquehanna Chorale by Bob Chilcott.
“This inviting new poetry collection by Mary Anne Morefield is the achievement of a sustained, sweeping attention that offers such precision of insight and affectionate observation that it necessarily produces discovery and, ultimately, the risk and sacrament of wonder. This unbridled poetry of witness has earned all the attention you may wish to give its haunted, galloping ride.”
—Gregory Donovan, author of Torn from the Sun
“In Mary Anne Morefield’s new book, No Bridle, No Bit, No Reins, her poems proceed by a series of built-in tensions: past richness of husband and family balanced against present-day freedoms of solitude and self-exploration; past faith in a traditional Christian worldview balanced against her current desire for a World Spirit that blesses all life. These finely honed, linguistically dexterous poems also balance aesthetic and sensory pleasures (for writing, painting, eating, hiking in the world’s textures and colors) against the bitter recognition of the world’s deprivations and suffering. And finally, her desire and determination for more life, more life, bumps up against her acknowledgment of time’s undoing: ‘The mantle clock chimes the quarter hour and ticks the next second …/The earth keeps spinning./I try to hang on, at least this minute.’ And as she hangs on, she writes poems that range far and wide through space and time, or as she says in ‘What Are Your Poems About?’ ‘They’re large/as the world, small/as a pebble, high/as clouds, humble/ as humus.’
“If the free spirit within her dreams of riding bareback among the starry firmament, (or muses about the sleeping horse outside her window who could be dreaming of ‘no bit in his mouth, no saddle/ on his back, no reins,’), the fully mature poet, Mary Anne Morefield, records the various ways that life reins us in for our work on earth—whether doing her daily chores as wife and mother on a Pennsylvania farm, or working within the Christian ministry, or marching in political protest on the streets of Washington—before it releases us again into the solitude of our later years. For this poet, solitude comes in the arid landscapes of Arizona, where she learns to find a new richness and independence, whether hiking in the desert, wrestling with a new spirituality (‘now I am content to let those doctrines fly,/ and simply believe one Great Spirit/ with many names, dwells among us,’) or musing on time’s constraints and releases. If there is solace amidst sorrow, it arrives as “a bevy of quail, a hummingbird, a road runner and eyes to gather them in,/a path that wanders through the desert, legs strong enough to wander/ with it, and strong enough to bring me home again,/the promise of friends around the dinner table.”
—Neil Shephard author of Hominid Up
Mary Anne Morefield was born in the Midwest. Now she spends part of each year in Pennsylvania, New York and Arizona. After graduating from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, she served as Chaplain at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. She lived with her husband and children on an eighteenth-century farm where she tended her sheep, rode her horse and wandered through the woods and beside the creek. She often writes of these experiences. For more information, click here.
Sometime it Happens When We Don’t Read Signs
This trail feels too narrow. I’m slipping
on glus going down but I don’t remember
An ant hill, red ants swarming, a hoof print,
horse manure. Surely we would have noticed
We’re heading west. We’re heading toward
the water tower. That’s too far north. How did
we get here?
How do we get to the trailhead? The sun
is sliding behind the mountain. Will we
ever get home?