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When Light Waits for Us by Hilda Downer

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In the introduction to this, her third poetry collection, Hilda Downer explains the title of this book. It began as an exchange of mailed photographs and mailed poems that responded to the pictures, but, too soon, the exchange petered out. She notes that “the most important component of photography and poetry [is] the right light” and that it “will come for the optimal image and understanding.” “We must ‘relearn ourselves / with what we have now,’ Hilda Downer says in her new collection When Light Waits for Us. Time—in all its countless iterations and absences—bears in on her from every side, all of life an excavation site, a record of who she became and, more hauntingly, who she did not. Even so, Downer recognizes that we live in a ‘delicate microcosm’ where ‘orchids [are] so specialized / their pollination requires / one particular species of insects.’ Her poems assert that we are no different, our souls intersecting, thereby giving us all these ways—music, photography, even poems—to ‘invent an art to make it worth starting over.’  - Jeff Hardin. Hilda Downer’s When Light Waits For Us stirs spirit and body to create new ways to strengthen the miracle of being alive to love and long and lose the gain; then to write meditations on sons and a mother, friends, the poet desiring humanity to rerun its fragile hope that Love is — the answer.” -  Shelby Stephenson. Hilda Downer is a retired English professor and psychiatric nurse who lives in Sugar Grove, North Carolina.

Charlotte, North Carolina: Main Street Rag, 2021. 69 pages. Trade paperback.