By Sandra Marchetti


Sundress Publications
March 2015

Reviewed by Veronica Popp


Sandra Marchetti's Confluence is an erudite collection full of vim and verve. Marchetti's passion for the outdoors and the lull of suburbia is particularly memorable. "Autumn Damask" explains her ardor for the Midwest: "Comfort is when / you are tethered / to a place / you couldn't move / fast from anyway." Location and the gravity of altered connections is an important subject within Marchetti's poems.

Her well-spun web of a Midwestern world continues with her three-part poem titled "East Highlands," inspired by a residential subdivision of Naperville. This poem is about the deconstruction and reconstruction of suburban homes, and it includes images of both birth and death. Darkness also abounds within this collection. While meditating on the joys of life, "East Highlands" also chronicles the death of nostalgia. "We went to my old neighborhood and I said / a prayer for the 1,000 square foot ranch / the window unit air conditioner / I read the last rites to your raspberry patch." She speaks about the mystical and emotional connections to objects of the past. The narrative thread that ties "East Highlands" together is the depth of these connections.

Beginning within the first section titled "Dozer," we see the deconstruction of the neighborhood, roads, and yard. The image of the destruction of a suburban home by a construction crew is especially striking: "Cat's about to eat through with steel mandibles." In suburbia, nothing remains the same. As Marchetti indicates, "even the streetlights had switched places." I cannot think of any occasion where I enjoyed reading a poem about Naperville, Illinois. I would love to see her continue the suburban chronicles begun in "East Highlands." A poem in Marchetti's singular style about Villa Park's Ovaltine Court, a factory abandoned for fourteen years and turned into loft apartments, would certainly be intriguing.

Continuing the theme of endings is a lovely poem about the beauty of suicide in suburbia titled "Island Park." It is the strongest poem within Confluence. The giving away of self to minerals is a strong image: "to be untied / And given to granite." Marchetti's joyous use of the dash puts Dickinson to shame. I was reeled in by the complexity of this piece. The poem details local lore on end of life endeavors off the rail bridge. Marchetti provides this image of the falling: "What's young / comes lick swift, dying / quick off the two-tiered bridge." Marchetti is a chronicler of the joys and sorrows of Midwest living.

She has a talent in making the average and day-to-day seem thrilling. "Walk Through" is a beginning and an ending. In real estate, a final walk through of a house is before a closing, this walk through is simpler. The line, "Our desk is neat between / your bills, my calendar and pen" is the meditation of a love and a joining of homes, souls and craft.

The "Waters of Separation" incorporates strong Biblical imagery of the separation of life and death and cleansing after contact with the dead. It is an upbeat poem celebrating life, while musing on the shortness of it all: "Laugh with me here / on the faster side / of forever."

Finally, "Girl in Stone," which appropriates some descriptions from Sylvia Plath, is a positivist interpretation of Plath's original "Edge." Instead of a stoic Greek death and apathetic moon, Marchetti changes the tone to an intercession on life. The sea rises and falls, but "Diadems of light come forward in sweet births."

Marchetti's poems are original; their technical strength is in their imaginative craftsmanship. If a confluence is where two things come together, Marchetti's collection is a joining of her passion and purity of spirit, reveling in a suburban glow of happiness.