Wind in the Elephant Tree
This writer and photographer also shares memories of friends, scenes of his beloved Guatemala, aging, his legacy, and much more.Amazon USA
Wind in the Elephant Tree
by Earl Vincent de Berge
- Publisher : Cyberwit.net (August 17, 2023)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 135 pages
- ISBN-10 : 8196316119
- ISBN-13 : 978-8196316112
- Item Weight : 5.7 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.31 x 8.5 inches
Reviewed by Mark D. Walker, Million Mile Walker
Earl de Berge’s third book of poetry is an Ode to his wife, Suzanne. Most poems are love poems or valentines to his life partner he met in college and married just after she graduated. This writer and photographer also shares memories of friends, scenes of his beloved Guatemala, aging, his legacy, and much more.
I met Earl and Suzanne, several years ago over lunch in Phoenix, discussing fundraising strategies for “Seeds for a Future,” an NGO they set up in Guatemala, which provides training to impoverished rural women on the South Coast. I soon learned that we shared a love and appreciation of Guatemala and the Desert Southwest, and that Earl was also a writer and, in his case, a poet.
I was surprised to learn that he started writing as far back as 1959 and is publishing a memoir laced with poetry and photos about his life-changing adventures as a young man in the Sonoran deserts of Baja California, Mexico, and Arizona, A Finger of Land On An Old Man’s Hand. As a high school senior, he came across one of the best Chinese poets, Li Po, noted for his elegant romantic verse, to which the author felt drawn for expressing his thoughts on some of the various women in his life. He was soon writing about nature, the environment, cities, and social issues, and his imagination was fueled by his travels through Central America, the Sonoran Desert, and the Andes. “Everything I experience has potential for a poem—even the increasingly dreadful business of politics.”
Most of his poems are about his wife, like this one written in Tucson in 1965.
Suzanne Beguiles Me
To me, it is the richness and
Kindness of your mind
That beguiles my intellect.
From your caring, tender touch,
My heart grasps the fullness
Of your grace and beauty.
The two combined
Are a greater gift
Than I deserve.
As with much of his writing, this book can be appreciated as a poem novel with elements of poetry, prose, and several photos that make up the author’s literary adventures. He begins the book with the image of an Elephant tree in bloom, which harkens back to his 20s when he “rough-necked my way through wilderness deserts of Mexico with several friends” and came to the realization that neither he nor anyone else “is the center of the universe…”
My favorite section of the book focuses on a place we both admire, “Guatemala and its people are dear to us, and I have written about what I saw and assessed during those years. But Guatemala is also a place where we had time to dig deeper into why we loved each other.” They purchased a lovely place on Lake Atitlan to relax and be together, only to sell it to form “Seeds for a Future,” which provides training for rural women in the region of Chocolá on the South Coast.
He never shies away from the country’s dark side, as with “Guatemala Nightmare.”
Already staggering, indigenous cultures suffocate
Beneath their growing numbers, poverty, prejudice, neglect
Poor food security and minimal health care.
Evangelicals challenge their belief in ancient gods…
And yet de Berge never loses sight of his lifelong love affair with Suzanne, as reflected in “My World is Best.”
And though our hair grows grey
And our steps shorten and slow,
Your heart and spirit stay
Entwined with mine.
The book includes many outstanding, colorful photos beautifully reproduced by the publisher, Cyberwit.net. This eclectic mix of poems and stories makes for a rich literary experience and reminds us that “Finding a new language and someone to speak it with” makes all the difference in life.