This collection could very well have been titled “mind your origins,” a line from one of the book’s best poems, “Colonial fall.”
Throughout Flutter, Alice Burdick tracks back to origins of human behaviour: action and interaction with other humans and other beings---the natural world. But back to “Colonial fall” for a moment; the poem contains this statement: “A search for blood;/it brought us over here, in boats. We were used to theft,/to stealing and being stolen from./So it was no long leap to this new world.” An acquisitive, consumptive nature lies at the heart of colonialism and occupation, which, of course, continue today with beleaguered lands assuming the role of new world all the time. It takes a sharp mind like Burdick’s to point this out with such acuity and brevity.
Burdick has lived the last little while down the South Shore, Lunenburg County. That landscape and rural experience have clearly influenced these verses. Occasionally, with the longer pieces usually, you work hard for exact meaning (if that end is important), but there’s joy in reading aloud the poet’s diction, figuring out how she pricks a scene with red or an exclamatory burst (“Give it a rest already!”).
And then, meaning may just come.