Lisa Stice’s first collection is like a complaint against god, to god — you can cry, but hardly change their ways; but it is also a positively proud book. Here, the poems “[k]iss for permission to pass” through the reader’s head and stay there — and very well they do. The collection is a chronicle of present time, one that talks about life before, after and around wars from the eyes of a military wife, one who holds many a time as much responsibility as the personnel himself does of serving the nation.And Lisa writes in the book that an officer’s wife “learns not to ask what did you do today” and makes sure that she makes “sound judgment [even] when ordering a drink”, that “security of sensitive information” counts towards national security — that life is not what it seems from the other side of the road.
Her writing is contagious (you like telling people about it) and quite cautious, from the beginning to the end — what’s amazing is that it is war poetry, one mostly outside the battlefield. She frankly talks of things that most of us do not know about military personnels, opening our eyes for a wider scope of vision while telling us about things that do happen in a particular ‘Uniform’ or in those that we never notice belong to officers. In a poem about group meetings, she writes that those are like “a circle of folding chairs / a place to sit, to confess / what you may not be able to talk about—” and in one about being in service, about social life, she writes what an officer is expected to do, for themselves: “guard / your identity // don’t announce // where you are / where you’ve been // don’t advertise / a pattern of life”. When she writes all of this, she’s apparently very keen about being a military wife and a poet — alongside; this is quite obvious too.
Also, at times, the voice that narrates the whole story even sounds full with conviction — one that, as said, can not be expressed; but there’s that silent pride that exists in the feeling of being a part of someone who lays his life for the nation — a satisfaction on being responsible.
Her lines sing in ways — both alone and with other lines, and with confidence. At times the lines are bold (keep / confidence that / women merit trust), at times worried (our daughter will crawl and walk // in the months you are gone, / and I need to protect her.), even fierce, and romantic — waiting for his return, while never knowing when he will; knowing, and not being able to express joy over the same. In a muffled voice, at times, everything is hard — at times, the voice remains silent; but the love never numbs.
Lisa’s writing is vividly charged and is one highly recommendable. Such a debut is an achievement in itself.
Uniform, by Lisa Stice