In Rising, poet Jane Beal goes in search of America. She sings the Cherokee Creation story, imagining dialogue between Sky-Woman and First Man. She remembers being a child and exchanging her blood with a Cherokee friend, and then, years later, the birth of that friend's son, Usquaniqdi, whose name means “miracle.”
In her poems, she gives voice to women from American history such as the mother Pocahontas, the midwife Martha Ballard, and the preacher Sojourner Truth. She enters into conversation with American writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman. In “Song of my Soul,” she re-writes the Orphic myth for the whole world; the “Song” is the magnum opus of her collection.
She later turns from human voices to Nature's creatures, watching the Stellar's Jay, Mourning Dove, and Great White Egret in flight. She explores the landscapes of California, Colorado, and New Mexico, the city of Vallejo, and the high Sierras, where she notices a simple marmot at home in the wild. In the last poems of the book, she moves from meditations on rainfall to the stars shining in the night sky above.
This is an extraordinary collection by a significant American poet.