In Colors Passing Through Us, Marge Piercy is at the height of her powers, writing about what matters to her most: the lives of women, nature, Jewish ritual, love between men and women, and politics, sexual and otherwise. Feisty and funny as always, she turns a sharp eye on the world around her, bidding an ex-hausted farewell to the twentieth century and singing an "electronic breakdown blues" for the twenty-first.
She memorializes movingly those who, like los desaparecidos and the victims of 9/11, disappear suddenly and without a trace. She writes an elegy for her mother, a woman who struggled with a deadening round of housework, washing on Monday, ironing on Tuesday, and so on, "until stroke broke / her open." She remembers the scraps of lace, the touch of velvet, that were part of her maternal inheritance and first aroused her sensual curiosity. Here are paeans to the pleasures of the natural world (rosy ripe tomatoes, a mating dance of hawks) as the poet confronts her own mortality in the cycle of seasons and the eternity of the cosmos: "I am hurrying, I am running hard / toward I don't know what, / but I mean to arrive before dark."
Other poems-about her grandmother's passage from Russia to the New World, or the interrupting of a Passover seder to watch a comet pass-expand on Piercy's appreciation of Jewish life that won her so much acclaim in The Art of Blessing the Day. Colors Passing Through Us is a moving celebration of the endurance of love and of the phenomenon of life itself-a book to treasure.