The Book of Arabella

Timothy Walsh

With this cycle of interconnected poems, Timothy Walsh has created a luminous tale of enchantment in which Arabella is a housewife who longs to return to her life as a blue heron. As in the famous Celtic tales of the selkies brought to land and enslaved by human husbands, Walsh creates a fine lyricism in Arabella’s heightened sense of both her material world as a human female and her longing for and connection with the natural world. We can’t help but ponder the true meaning of freedom within the trappings of modern life.

Timothy Walsh’s most recent poetry collection is When the World Was Rear-Wheel Drive: New Jersey Poems (Main Street Rag Publishing). His awards include the Grand Prize in the Atlanta Review International Poetry Competition, the Kurt Vonnegut Fiction Prize from North American Review, and the Wisconsin Academy Fiction Prize. He is the author of a book of literary criticism, The Dark Matter of Words: Absence, Unknowing, and Emptiness in Literature (Southern Illinois University Press) and two other poetry collections, Wild Apples (Parallel Press) and Blue Lace Colander (Marsh River Editions).

Walsh was born in New York, grew up in New Jersey, but has lived for the past thirty years in Wisconsin. When he is not writing, he spends a lot of time on the water, sailing, canoeing, and kayaking. He is the Director of the Cross-College Advising Service at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he is also the Associate Director of the Office of Undergraduate Advising.

The Book of Arabella is available for purchase through Parallel Press for $10.00. Discounts are provided for libraries, booksellers, and non-profit organizations.

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from “Arabella’s Arsenal”

Late at night, she’d awaken and wander
the moonlit house.
In the kitchen, the stove looked like a seated god.
Wooden spoons whispered among themselves.
Droplets dripped from faucets like pearls.

In the cutlery drawer, knives, forks, and spoons
lay in quiet collusion.
By the dim green light of the cold stove clock,
she’d lay out a line of spoons
and an opposing army of knives.

Sometimes a mouse would scurry across the floor,
and then the secret melody of time
seemed strung together of nursery rhymes,
her own life fleeting
as the quick glint of a knife.

Trivet, spatula, and wire whisk.
A wife is what they called her,
but a heron is what she was.