Linda Benninghoff’s departures (March Street Press, North Carolina, 2004) is a chapbook of 19 poems, along with some images, that are themed on the feelings connected with the act of ‘leaving’. Some of the poems address those who are no more but whose memories still ache in the heart and mind of the poet. Other poems focus on people, places, things, and animals that have been part of a lasting memory but that have left the author behind, or have been left behind the by author, and are now being missed since life has moved on.
The most inspiring quality of all the poems in departures is the respect with which the poet treats her referents. Not only people but also pets, places, and simple and seemingly unimportant objects are held as something worth loving. Since one has to move on as a necessity of life, holding things and people in respect allows leaving with good memories. This positive way of looking at things is a great attribute that we need to improve in our lives; departures achieves it in only 39 pages.
The smooth and unaffected poetic style of departures carries well-known eternal codes of hope, fear, memories, family, love, friendship, and above all-respect. The mode is dominantly nostalgic and an aching sweetness caresses the reader’s heart in several sets of lines. In There Is No Stillness, we read:
‘You said then
you once made
A vow to be silent
till the world changed
and only broke it,
When you came up with a better idea.’