- Publisher: Cleveland State University Poetry Center
- Available in: Paperback
- ISBN: 0-914946-48-X
- Published: March 1, 1985
More Poems from this Book
See also “Several Things,” in Poems on Poems
Martha Collins’s first book of poems, first published in 1984 and reprinted (with a new cover) in 1998.
There are few first books of poetry that reward attention as much asThe Catastrophe of Rainbows. These poems are lyrical, complicated, lucid, and commanding.” —Wilson Library Bulletin
The collection is held together by the images of color which shade into each other like a rainbow’s arc and then reopen in the final and title poem. And just like the title, which suggests the tension between beauty and tragedy, there is a fierce interplay between the brilliance of color and imagery on the one hand, and the stark purity of language on the other.” —West Branch
Martha Collins is a poet whose command of craft rises beautifully to meet the needs of her vision. The content which informs, which forms, these poems doesn’t sound like someone else’s. Her diction and images often have a dense, closewoven texture, as of tapestry.” —Denise Levertov
The Catastrophe of Rainbowsis that rare thing, a book which is mysteriously familiar even on a first reading and new and surprising on each successive encounter. As the subtle inter-connections among the poems clarify and expand, it is as if one inhabits a seamless arc of color.” —Peter Klappert
Martha Collins makes stunning objects, beautiful thought-machines, textures-of-questionings, songs. Bold primaries (color, emotion, event), put into the poem with a forthright pastrycook slap, flash out at the end with astonishing moral and dramatic reverberation. Like a Bunraku puppeteer she says ‘here, see me contriving this.’ We see, but are no less wowed.” —George Starbuck
The Story We Know
The way to begin is always the same. Hello, Hello. Your hand, your name. So glad, just fine, and Good-bye at the end. That's every story we know, and why pretend? But lunch tomorrow? No? Yes? An omelette, salad, chilled white wine? The way to begin is simple, sane, Hello, and then it's Sunday, coffee, the Times, a slow day by the fire, dinner at eight or nine and Good-bye. In the end, this is a story we know so well we don't turn the page, or look below the picture, or follow the words to the next line: The way to begin is always the same Hello. But one night, through the latticed window, snow begins to whiten the air, and the tall white pine. Good-bye is the end of every story we know that night, and when we dose the curtains, oh, we hold each other against that cold white sign of the way we all begin and end. Hello, Good-bye is the only story. We know, we know.
Her name was next to mine and sometimes, in the same pearls and sweater, we were twins at our desk in the second row. All that year we rode Caesar's horses, we declined this and that and in the spring we made a purple cake for Rome. Joanie thought of children and this spring I think, A trip to Rome! I think, My own child! As if I had room for other places in this life. Joanie didn't after all and I remember that Italia est paeninsula and Rome is on its edge. Rome was war, Rome was men: they made patterns with their shields, they found honor on their swords. A wolf nursed their twins. They ate their plates. Joanie is bones. Her last ride was on her back, her bare feet pale against the stirrups. She bore down, she wore no pearls, she rode air, I ride, you ride, we ride such horses as we can. Italia non est insula. Nor I, nor you, nor you.