Laura Grace Weldon Tending.jpg

I like the feeling of dropping the needle onto a new album. Some of the tracks will be familiar already, thanks to radio, and others will be new, like unexpected gifts.

Laura Grace Weldon’s volume Tending is like that. The words are chosen and arranged beautifully–the images uniformly delightful. Some are songs I recognize and others are fresh and unfamiliar, their authenticity validated by the truth of those familiar.

I’ve never been a teenage girl with an imaginary boyfriend, but I have stretched to reach a distant blackberry (the best ones are always the farthest away), briers grabbing my clothes and tearing my face. And I’ve learned from experience, as she has, how to hold the bowl when you stumble.

I never learned tea party manners, but I have baled hay deep into the night, enjoying the satisfaction that comes from a long hard day sweating in a field with one’s children. Those days are in my past now, but I nod in agreement when I read: “even swallowing this day/I couldn’t feel more whole.”

I’ve never seen a window washer reading poetry while dangling from a skyscraper, but I have been moved to prayer at the sight of a CAFO.

And I think it’s like prayer
to farm, mindful
that plants and animals
need to be exactly where they are,
seeing as nature is God drawing circles
for us to learn the shape of things.

And, increasingly these days, I too am

weary of those who talk
in slogans stamped and packed
by someone else, like
long distance truckers paid to drive
without knowing the weight
hauled onto that dark highway.

Yes, well said, I think, smiling at the reminder of a tractor in a hay field “circling ever inward,” and journeys that “trace all the way back to blessed dirt.” And likewise at the image of some future archaeologist discovering the truth of the aluminum salesman’s pitch.

This is a record whose grooves deserve to be well worn.