Me: “Oh, it’s called Earthling, like what aliens called humans in 1950s sci-fi, lol!”
James Logenbach: “Earthling is one of the oldest words in the English language, our original word for ploughman, a keeper of the earth. In poems simultaneously ordinary and otherworldly…”
Logenbach’s Earthling is certainly about things of the earth. He ponders (fixates?) on how we’re here for a little, like everyone else has been or will be, but the earth and sky and water remain. In early parts of the book he explores returning “home” – the geography where he grew up. The concept of home is time travel – he remembers what happened in places a long time ago; his dead mother is there and not there:
“I heard my mother’s voice.
I heard it plainly, as if she were standing in the room.
‘I know it’s early, she said,
But I’m planning ahead for Christmas.
‘So I’d like to remember: What kind of coffee do you like?
Regular, or decaf, or both at certain times?
I want to be prepared, in case you’d like a cup when you’re here.'”
He perfectly captures a loving parent.
In the end of the book he is the parent facing his own mortality. He observes the younger lives, and their comings and goings. He yearns for more seasons, but finds some kind of peace or at least some sort of role in a bigger world: “The boats come in, the boats go out…/Can there be any day but this?/Look, there is the sea, and there is the sky.”
In another one, to the earth:
“What space I inhabit/You’ll fill with water or sky.”
If you’re looking for a quiet little volume to contemplate death and time and home, this might be the right book for you right now.