In a recent interview at Female First, Penny said that One Bowl is a kind of sequel to Recycling Starlight(Mountains and Rivers Press, 2010), poems she’d written in the first 18 months following the death of her husband, renowned haiku scholar William J. Higginson. Penny feels the poems in One Bowl are “less raw and more contemplative, showing that time does heal.”
“One Bowl” took my breath away when I first read it — its unadorned language so pure and luminous, its message especially appropriate for this season of material excess. Knowing that this was written by a poet well acquainted with grief (Penny also lost both parents in the same year), I was also reminded that a loved one, one single person, can be a person’s entire universe. I like how she blends the temporal and the celestial, creating ever spiraling associations with the human heart at its core.
She and Bill liked to make a special root vegetable soup together. In the poem, she’s making the soup alone, needing the light of the moon but getting the earth, as she sees her sole reflection in the ladle. This healing soup of love and memory marked a step toward accepting her loss.
In today’s poem, Penny captures another poignant moment — she thinks again of Bill as she prepares breakfast with his grandmother’s whisk. Hold memory in your hand, whip new beginnings as grace transforms sorrow.