Reviewed by Anna Foschi Ciampolini
David C. Bellusci’s latest collection of poetry takes the reader on a profound, metaphysical journey through stages of life and consciousness. Age of Innocence consists of five segments, each exploring under different perspectives a wide range of human feelings, cultural differences, and the healing power of nature. Starting with the segment in “Book of Nature,” centred around the innocence and warmth of an adolescent’s approach to life, the narration becomes increasingly complex and multi-faceted, reflecting inner longings and aspects of the human soul. Bellusci’s free verses, often displayed on the book page as a visual composition, range from playful images: “From a bay window two cats stare/at foolish busy-bodies/carry briefcases, wear backpacks./Puzzled felines aghast.” (“Unmoved Cats,” Book of Nature) to a reflection on impermanence “Shattered across a scent polished floor/pieces of crystal scattered/Czech treasure disappears,/sweeping emotions, fragile history.” in the poem: “Broken Glass or Rethinking Kleist’s “Das Zebrochne Krug.” In “Cities and Fields,” the author traces a map of discoveries through images, sounds, smells, and landscape colours. These cross continents and several countries, and through the flow of people and languages encountered, their stories and history are told. However, this chapter of the collection is also mirroring social injustice, a sense of identity and memory, and acknowledging political action (“Tribute to Mandela” and “Soaking Rwanda.”)
The two final chapters in the Age of Innocence lead the reader through a spiritual journey of purification. The enchanted world of youth, innocence, and discovery slowly changes into a new awareness of human misery, marginalization, and heart-rending loneliness. An indigent woman finds solace feeding pigeons among throngs of indifferent passersby: “Pigeon lady disappeared: /nobody noticed except thrusting pigeons.” (“Pigeon Lady”) A homeless man tries to buy a cup of coffee, a luxury: “Client attempts to pay waving/his dirty coupon.” (“Donut Shop.”) In the poem “Tram I Won’t Forget,” a stranger listening to an accident victim in a hospital feels genuine compassion. Compassion in its purest, highest sense, as intended in the Latin word compati, to suffer with, is the focal point of the complete collection. In the poems at the epilogue, it reveals its full power of salvation. Acknowledging human suffering, honouring the dignity of people and bodies ravaged by old age, illness or accidents leads to a reconnection with the redemption that spirituality and nature can offer. Practicing compassion concludes the search, closes the circle: “You fill my empty cups/with your immortality/and delicately knead my/sorrows with your fragrant drops.” (From: “Silent Syllables.”)
David C. Bellusci lives in Vancouver, B.C. He has published seven books. He holds a B.A. in English Literature, an MA in linguistics from the University of Calgary, an MFA in Creative Writing (University of Nebraska), and a Ph. D in philosophy (Dominican University College, Ottawa.)
Age of Innocence is published by Resource Publications.