Ripley Hugo’s poems ring strong and clear and they do what great poems should do: they distill past and present into single, lyrical moments filled with unforgettable, closely observed details—a woman at a kitchen sink, firefighters at a worn pine table, a man and boy building fence—and inscribed in those smaller stories is all the pain and music and echoes of the larger stories in which they are embedded. I have waited a long time for this collection and I celebrate its arrival.
—Caroline Patterson, editor of MONTANA WOMEN WRITERS: A GEOGRAPHY OF THE HEART
Ripley Hugo is sublime. Tough as whang leather, full of whimsy and grief, when she sings her plains song, it’s pitch perfect.
If I’d known from the start/I’d return to this river bank/ every year of my breath,/ I might have made plans,/ said yes to my bones/ and the heron stalking the reed./ I could have worn the same coat/ all these years, whatever weave/ was fashion. No move tentative./Could have made myself clear/ in every encounter/, in every important job I’ve taken. Pragmatic,wry, her poems teach us how to live on this humble earth, how to become each year more richly, raggedly human.
—Sandra Alcosser, author of EXCEPT BY NATURE