Poems of Time (When…)
and Love (…I Reach You)
Love is the fifth dimension, that which alters and enriches the fourth dimension, time.
Dean Olson’s new book of poems, When I Reach You, delivers what his readers have come to expect and welcome, meaningful and provoking observations of change over the passage of time. Changes over time appear in the moments of dawn and dusk, the passage of the seasons, the give and take of the tides and the sea, the blooming and fading of flowers and trees, and especially the passage that all these phenomena serve to symbolize: the changes in the poet’s (and the reader’s) personal life story, from youth to maturity to old age with an eye towards death.
What sets this new collection apart from Olson’s earlier books is the predominate focus on love as a measure of life’s vitality and as an agent of life’s changes.
This poet says clearly a lot of wise and welcome, expected and surprising things about life blessed with love. Reward is found more in the joy of loving than in the satisfaction of being loved. Love renews the soul. Separation is okay, but reunion is a return to vitality. Love can last when all else fails. Love can bloom in old age. “With love our lives are burnished treasure.” Love gives meaning to the passage of time.
And these poems show that love is fun. Love is made of allure and courtship, desire and fulfillment. Sexual imagery is abundant in this collection: the ink well and the nib, flowers opening, the fragrant oasis, and the moist garden of summer. If life and death are intertwined, love is a strong and sustaining strand in the braid. “In time our aging bodies glow like ripe plums.”
Dean Olson taught at universities in Hong Kong, Alaska, and Canada, and is emeritus faculty at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, where he led seminars in economics, cultural studies, and maritime history. He has sailed the Galapagos Islands, the Pacific Ocean, and the Gulf of Alaska, and spent months with students on the Salish Sea. He has published twelve poetry collections. His poems can be found in The Georgia Review, The Lyric, Prairie Schooner, Rattle, Atlanta Review, Windfall, Cascade #2, and in other publications. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Washington State Book Award in Poetry.