Enhanchata – By: Robert Ely – Reviewed by Perle Champion
First published in First Draft Magazine
Robert Ely’s Encanchata is a very slender book of poems. He begins it with a “Note – Encanchata, also spelled ‘Ikantchati,’ was a Creek Indian village on the high bluffs of the Alabama River near the site that eventually became the city of Montgomery.” The Note sets the tone and sense f place for the poems that follow. As Ely has a law practice in Montgomery; it is that place from which he writes.
The opening poem, “Seed,” has a haunting quality that evokes a sense of the ephemeral that ties the past to our present. “Brown magnolia leaf,/ Young brave’s skidding moccasin/ (Writes no one’s long name)…Did I imagine stream, or/ Did a thought / Of autumn lakes at dawn/ Escape my empty cup?”
In “Affinities,” Ely takes the everyday interaction of anyone, anywhere in work-a-day America, and addresses the space between each of us. That space is the Star of this poem and gives a person pause. The ordinary interactions of people are rendered extraordinary as we consider, “If the instant accident/ That arcs the gap between two bodies/ Is aware of loneliness or love.”
Reaction to poetry is usually visceral, and it should be. Poetry is the personal interior conversation of one person made public. You either relate to it or not. You either like it or not.
There are eleven poems in this slim volume – I like it.