We Share a Wonder, Kristen Rembold

Michael Diehl, Slime with a Purpose

We Share a Wonder



The light so soft these long, slantwise days,
you could float on it as spring scrolls into summer.

Blossoms drop as I push my new grandson’s pram along
the park’s main promenade,

wheeling over damp brown petals
as he squalls, fighting sleep, this fine evening,

people all around us, families on outings, strolling lovers,
strangers speaking in Liverpool accents that are new to me.

We follow a stream filled with ducks and new ducklings
past spreading rhododendrons, a pavilion, a fountain

before finally, fitfully, he sleeps.  I also rest,
reading “All Around Atlantis” on a Victorian park bench,

nudging the carriage back and forth while I imagine he dreams,
and from time to time I look up at the immense expanse

of sky turning gradually from blue to peach.
I lay my book aside when a movement catches my eye.

Are these our first swallows of summer?
I find him with eyes wide open, a look of pure wonder.

Birds swoop above us, swoop and dive, rise and fall,
like birds caught in a funnel, part of and surrounded

by a landscape seen as if through a fisheye lens:
the pond, the grass, the fringe of trees, the clouds,

the whole sky swirls until we too
are drawn up into its movement.

Kristen Rembold


Review by Sherry Mossafer Rind

This poem begins with a gentle early summer evening in a park. A woman pushes her new grandson in a stroller (pram). But he’s breaking the peace with squalling, the way babies will when they are exhausted but refuse to sleep. Still, the grandmother enjoys the scene, and the baby finally sleeps. I like the detail of “Victorian park bench” where she sits because the scene itself could be Victorian or timeless. All this is familiar but not trite. When birds swoop overhead, both speaker and child are caught up in the beauty of their flight. The sight, utterly new to the child, becomes equally new and wondrous to the speaker. The deceptively simple language becomes a profound comment on the moments that make up our lives.


Review by Sue Chenette

In the opening couplet of Kristen Rembold’s quietly resonant poem we find ourselves in an evening alive to the possibility of wonder. It’s there in the Ls and Os – light, long, float, scrolls – and in the “slantwise” image of low sun which also, because “days,” and not just light, are slanting, offers a hint of the liminal, of change hovering. “Blossoms drop” as the poem moves smoothly to what and where: the narrator pushing her “new grandson’s pram” along the main promenade of a park in Liverpool. The sense of the idyllic is tempered, though. Damp brown petals litter the path, the child squalls as he fights sleep. The families and lovers who people the walkways are strangers with unfamiliar accents. The path follows “a stream filled with ducks and new ducklings” – a third use of “new,” after new grandson and new accents, underlining the subtle change in the narrator’s perception – and continues past “rhododendrons, a pavilion, a fountain,” the beauties of garden deftly added to the microcosm of world that the poem is creating. And now, after the bustle and beauty, after the squalls,

… finally, fitfully, he sleeps. I also rest,
reading “All Around Atlantis” on a Victorian park bench,

And we rest, too – ahh – slowed by the calm simplicity of the four syllables that end the couplet’s first line. Yet even in the serene solitude of this moment, the book’s title and the bench’s era remind us that the park exists, that we live, within geography and history. And within a world that is troubled and fitful, as in the title story of Deborah Eisenberg’s book.

As the narrator nudges the carriage back and forth, imagining that her grandson dreams, I think of a half-remembered passage in Eisenberg’s story: “Yes, I had nightmares — children do …. And how else, except in the clarity of dreams, are you supposed to see the world all around you that’s hidden by the light of day?” 

The poem reasserts the world’s quiet marvels in “the immense expanse// of sky turning gradually from blue to peach.” Then, Rembold changes what has been a relaxed, expansive rhythm into concision. The next three lines contain a single sentence each:

I lay my book aside when a movement catches my eye.

Are these our first swallows of summer?
I find him with eyes wide open, a look of pure wonder.

It’s a change that both slows and alerts, rousing the sense that something is about to happen. And it does, as the poem enters its denouement (though it could almost have ended with the stillness of the child’s gaze): Now it is all verbs, all motion, swoop, swoop, dive, rise, fall; it is all nouns, all world, pond, grass, fringe, trees, clouds, “the whole sky [swirling] until we too” – the narrator, the child, and us, the audience, as well – “are drawn up into its movement.”




Scroll to Top