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Poems from the Pond
132 pages; Hybrid Nation
On a crisp evening last fall, I grabbed a glass of wine and took a seat among a group of friends. We'd gathered to read poems by an elderly neighbor. It's the kind of thing we do on Martha's Vineyard when the summer crowds leave and the evenings lengthen. We're a diverse community, the year-rounders; among the women encircling the fireplace that night were a farmer, a musician, a financial adviser, and a documentarian. I hadn't previously met the poet, Peggy Freydberg. But the others, struck that she started writing poetry in her 90s, already admired her.            

To be honest, I didn't expect much. I thought her poems might be like the watercolors some people produce when they take up painting as a late-in-life hobby. Proficient, perhaps. Charming, maybe. Not art.                    

Then I started reading. A few lines in, my skin began to prickle. By the time I reached the last poem, I could barely breathe. Her work was ferocious, tautly crafted, piercingly true. Freydberg was a goshawk, fierce and all-seeing. From the high crag of extreme old age, she looked down with a merciless, unblinking eye upon her own life, on the ravages of loss, the exhilarations of love: "I am bare now / Cool to the fire of sunsets / Gladly undressed of them." Freydberg died in March at age 107. But her work, collected in a book titled Poems from the Pond (edited and independently published by environmental advocate Laurie David), proves that there is no date stamp on creativity: Our masterpieces may be yet to come.           
— Geraldine Brooks