"What You Hear in the Dark is one of those rare, loving, heartbreaking books that has come together as all the necessary parts of a life come together, in order to help us connect anew. I am grateful for Sonia Gernes's generosity." —Gary Gildner, author of Somewhere Geese Are Flying
"This collection of poems by Sonia Gernes develops a striking voice and powerful drive, displays astonishing branchings of the imagination, and manifests the proper double vision of the poet: an outer eye for the personal and immediate and an inner for the most closely-held truths of the community." —John Engels, author of Recounting the Seasons
What You Hear in the Dark gathers the best of Sonia Gernes's previous poetry and adds three sections of new poems that give lyric voice to the thoughts and questions that surface in the midnight hours: the value of the lives we've chosen, time and mortality, the struggles with belief. In poems from Brief Lives, Gernes writes of survival and longing on a flat and fertile earth; in Women at Forty, of the resiliency and beauty of mid-life women; and in A Breeze Called the Fremantle Doctor, of a young woman thrust into teaching at a Minnesota Indian School in 1930, and a pioneer woman undone by Australia's forbidding terrain. As Miller Williams says of her work, it "has returned poetry to its first purpose [the telling of tales] with grace and wit."
The new poems confront the metaphysical directly and in a mature voice, searching through quotidian experience for "the ultimate equation / the voice beyond sound / the is beyond our stories of it / the X that equals God." Whether about her mother's long descent into Alzheimers or the mystical urges of a nineteenth-century ancestor, these are luminous poems, shot through with delight in the natural world and with Gernes's hope that "even among / inconstant stars, our world revolves eastward / darkness ever spinning toward the light."