and it was in these bare sands / that you fell, / beloved.
When John Baglow's partner Marianne MacKinnon died in 2006, he decided to assemble a new collection of poems in her memory. No one else knew of what proved to be a slow-moving ambition, but a member of the family mentioned one evening that Marianne had appeared in a dream, saying, “Tell John to finish my book.” After that, what choice did he have?
In a famous photograph by James Crombie, a murmuration of starlings takes, for a magical moment, the shape of a giant bird. This is the metaphor that best describes the collection: individual poems moving together in liquid formation, arcing and swooping as they will, and for perhaps just a singular moment assuming the outline of the author, helplessly ever-changing. Some of these poems, inspired by love, grief, and wonder, have been tucked away for years; others are freshly written. All here find their place.
There is no narrative in Murmuration, no chronology. Nor are the many personal remembrances and representations in the book confined to one person. Nevertheless, together they are one way of seeing, one way of being. Marianne would approve.