by Kate Marshall Flaherty
Quattro Books Inc. Publisher
Reviewed by Katherine L. Gordon
Poet, Publisher, Judge and Reviewer.
From a butter-cream background cover an ancient iron pot entices, it has the four legs: earth, air, water and fire, grounding the circle of the cauldron of life.
Stone Soup is the apt title of Kate Marshall Flaherty’s book, evocative of the cauldron of renewal as well as the brew of soul-food we all share in, each of us unique in the co-operative effort of trying to nourish each other through the rough, the ritual and the jubilation of days. The stones of this book jangle through some of the poems, each of us surely carrying one, the rough edges, the smooth, even the cutting ones as in Kate’s poem “every boy should have a stone in his pocket.”
These are our contributions to the simmering pot of days: “to purge all that’s not best.” Little events stir profound observations in Kate, in language equally accessible and wondrous: “Like rough prayer beads/to feed his family” from Light Within, and the amazing “alleluia!” of The God Particle.
The spirituality of diverse cultures is gathered here, added to the collaborative soup, to nourish with insight not division. Kate begins with a Dragon Fruit section, the taste of the exotic and the plain blending harmoniously. She has a trick of catching the sublime in the simple, so much sacred in all human action. Much reverence glows in the reference to Native lore, as in Lost: the “migwetch” for all natural beauty.
Her feelings so palpably human as in Mosquitoes, yet so connected to the deeper dimensions we sense. Next of Kin in the Lost section is a revolution of thought, our beginnings, our shared condition with all creatures. Fairy tales are here, reality is here, all blessed with a light Kate knows and transmits so easily to the surprised and enriched reader. Her language can leap from literary lovely to playful patois, entertaining and delightful. It is quite a mix.
As in the original folk-tale, the outcome is up to all those who enrich the meal. The reader will partake and be permeated with the revelation of Stone Soup.