Nikki Giovanni and Ashley Bryan first collaborated in 1996 with The Sun Is So Quiet, and now they join creative forces once again to bring a new gift to readers. Anyone who knows Bryan knows his big, openhearted embrace of life, and Giovanni’s spare and eloquent poems embody his loving spirit, as in “Leaves,” which Giovanni has called a “love poem, from me to Ashley.” She writes, “When I’m sitting / In a tree / Looking for a friend / I hope you’ll be the one / Standing at the root / Holding out your arms / To gently catch / My fall.”
That spirit suffuses this volume, from “Because,” a gentle poem addressed to sons and daughters, to reflections on the strengths of ancestors in “I Am a Mirror.” But there’s also resoluteness behind these poems, a willingness to hint at big themes—age, death, loss, independence, heaven, the auction block and the middle passage, and an encouragement to take a stand. As in all good literature for the young, adult readers might see more in the words and images. “Wild Flowers” will resonate with anyone who has experienced recent loss: “Autumn will come . . . anyway . . . Let us continue . . . our dance . . . beneath the sun.”
Complementing Giovanni’s luminous poetry, Bryan’s ever-gorgeous tempera-and-watercolor art is a jeweled treasure—a stained glass and patchwork-quilt vision of love.