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Stained with the Colours of Sunday Morning by Rayanne Haines
reviewed by Candice James

Stained with the Colours of Sunday Morning
Rayanne Haines
Innana Publications


Rayanne Haines takes us on a rough and tumble ride through the sweet and the sorrowful fields and mind diagrams of her carefully sculpted poetic storyscape.
On these pages we hear four voices, but predominantly we are presented with three main voices sharing the functional and dysfunctional sides of familial love, disappointments, and the razor’s edge of resilience.

In “Brushstrokes” (Isabella’s voice) Her rebellious spirit commands the stage as she states “But I’d rather be a wanderer than waited on / Would rather write of mythic sires than childhood fantasies.”

“Spices” in its entirety is one of the most primal and best poems about casual sex that I have ever read; twelve impacting lines in three stanzas that say it all! What is certain is that this poem definitely is ‘ a must read poem’!

An underlying weave that emerges off and on throughout the book is a recurring resentment and disappointment caused by the many absences of Haines’ mother in her life, particularly in her young and formative years. In “not gently to love” (Alina’s voice) Hayne’s bares deep wounds: “my mother’s love / always left me behind” and again in “for a walk that was not mine: “she never thought her child / would wish to remain in Italia / had no interest in a foreign country / she never thought to ask.”

“When Spring Came” (Isabella’s voice ) Here we see the poet’s view of what her mother thinks: “my angry daughter unreachable by me // by another winter she / would look at me with love.” And the follow up poem to this “In Canada my mother flourished” (Alina’s voice): “I could almost love her then / when the three of us / sat with our fingertips entwined // I could almost feel / that she wanted me.”

Then the poem “Moon lullabies” (Isabella’s voice): “I think I was a better mother / in her dreams. // such a burden for a young soul. / To have to wait for the sun to go down / before she could love her mother.”

There are so many terrific lines in this book I simply can’t stop quoting them. These lines in “she should have known better” (Alina’s voice) are a glowing example of Haines ability to expose the inner reaches of buried sorrow: ‘my soul aged like the leather / of my suitcase, worn down / from too many trips breathing / broken air // she should have known better / returned with me / shouldn’t have left me / to suffocate in metal birds / to drown on parched ground.”

“Advice to My Daughter” (Isabella’s voice) offers the following poignantly surreal lines of truth: ‘Do not love a man wearing shadows / For he will turn on you / with the angle of the sun.”

Again the resentment and disappointment read their heads blatantly in “finding our resilience” (Alina’s voice): ‘ I resented / her some days for daring / to occupy my place // I was afraid to admit / that she knew how to mother /when even then / I accused her of / failing as mine. // resenting the innocence / of your child / and the resilience / of your mother.”

The last four poems are in four successive voices remembering Isabella:

(Georgia-her husband’s voice): “Without her/ I am thin as the edge of an eggshell / I am empty as a fallow wheat field.”

(Georgia – her granddaughter’s voice): “maybe it is about living / undone, living unconstrained/ living on the edge of too much. // I read her eulogy. Maybe / we should all learn to live like her.”

(Alina – her daughter’s voice): “I want it to be winter again / and I am climbing off the plane / overwhelmed and feeling / smaller than an insect // I would rather feel / that than this being / alone on the earth again.”

And the fourth and final voice is (Isabella’s departed presence): ‘How strong is hope in the face / of alone? When alone / is what you are left with. // There is no alone I am not alone.’

Rayanne Haines has written a brilliantly carved out poetic saga that unravels with eloquent ease on the pages within “Stained With the Colours of Sunday Morning”. It is definitely one of 2018’s best offerings.

Candice James is a poet, musician, visual artist, singer songwriter. She was Poet Laureate of New Westminster, BC for two 3 year terms 2010-2016. and awarded the title of Poet Laureate Emerita in November 2016 by the City. She is the author of thirteen poetry books, the most recent The Water Poems (Ekstasis Editions 2017).