Awakening the Mind’s Eye | Review of “Thin Moon Psalm” by Sheri Benning (2007) Brick Books

It is amazing how a small number of words read can bring memories flashing to the mind’s eye. Forgotten feelings and emotions – however small – gush back to one’s perception by a merely well-crafted phrase. That is what happened to me when I read Sheri Benning’s Thin Moon Psalm.

What Passes Through (Page 15)

November sky: a mouth

that has smoked too much for years. Cold

that could make you bleed, thin

whistle of sun.

Running on scabbed ice. Poplar death,

familiar smell of what passes through dark:

menses  breath  sweat.

That time of day when the membrane

that keeps us separate begins

to fray – sudden rip of the heart,

wolf-flick on the back of the eye.

Errata? Look again. Only the sky’s

gaunt skin, but I saw something.

Something that tugs flesh

toward the moon.


For those of us who grew up in rural settings, we recall special moments being surrounded in nature. Benning’s words illuminate those settings with a vivid grace.

Wolverine Creek (Excerpt) page 67


Fall. When scraped fields

show us the empty-

cathedral air inside


Shrew sounds of leaves,

bleeding at a pace the eye can’t hold.

As a child standing in willow kindle,


grasses the yellow of grandma’s dying

arms, watching geese harrow a sky made

more blue by the radiance of decay,

Benning is also able to put into words those feelings of regret and worry that many of us have due to our passions. Again her vivid imagery comes through with clarity in the mind’s eye.

The colour of (Excerpt) page 51


The shameless meandering of leaves, the colour of

some slow jazz trumpet, of yeah-I-loved-you-so-

what-ness. A half-step off, semitone descent.


Somewhere someone is desperately in love with you.

He’s trying to slough the shiver of loss with manual labour.

He’s painting houses and with every brush stroke he is stabbed

by a memory of the thinnest blue song.


Benning is also able to describe an individual with a few simple phrases that flashes recognition to so many people in our lives.

Nocturne (Excerpt) Page 64


His voice-

whisky leaves of dusk

birch, cigarette smoke,

an e minor guitar chord.

Caressing the night-

lake, breath and

call of a loon.


Sheri Benning’s Thin Moon Psalm is a brilliant collection of poetry that flashes memories instantly into the mind’s eye. A perfect piece of literature.

Link to Brick Book’s page for Thin Moon Psalm


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