SAVE THEM FROM THE THIRD DEATH
Everyone’s dealt with some type of grief or loss in their life, and this poetry book is a perfect companion for those times when these emotions make us feel as if we’re on a deserted island. Reading Grief Logic by Crystal AC Salas was like feeling a hand soothing your heart so you know you aren’t grieving alone.
Aside from the profound way it touches your soul, each poem has its own ability to hug and whisper, “It’s okay to cry and remember.” It’s as though this book speaks to the heart of Día de los Muertos by reminding you that the people you’ve lost don’t have to be forgotten because that’s the third death, and keeping loved ones from experiencing the third death is up to the living. Crystal’s poetry also shows the pain of getting through the first two deaths, and how the result of keeping loved ones from the third death leaves you open to being triggered by future loss.
This book is an insightful read with mountainous effects. Out of respect for the poet, this review will only cover one poem that I thought would best represent the poetic effect housed in the entire book. The one I picked had an immediate sense of sadness for trying to save things connected to the deceased loved one, each expressed moment will move your heart reminding you of someone you lost, and the ending wraps it up with the reality that nothing holds back the continuance of time; the poem is Grief Logic #2.
RECALLING SIMILAR GRIEF
This poem doesn’t waste time getting into how your mind recalls moments of grief you’ve experienced, and this is the harsh truth and first step of grief. Salas presents this recall at the beginning, “When Serafin died/ the aire in the living room/ went out—remember?” (36). It’s this moment in her poem that creates the recall of a time when you grieved similarly. And it’s this recall intensifying the next part of the first stanza about Mike, who you can feel is the relative whose death may have inspired the poem. After the question, Crystal continues with, “it was the same/ when Mike left/ that morning” (36), but instead of diving deeper into that sentiment, Salas uses the next lines to show a metaphor representing what happened; Mike’s fridge becomes a representation of his lifetime because “the fridge rattled out of warranty/ too young just like him/ melted from the inside/ the first hot day of summer” (36). At this point, you can sense Mike’s death felt like it was too soon, and definitely not a result of old age, making you sad for Mike because he didn’t get to live his life long enough to wear out his body.
SAVING THE MEMORIES
In the second stanza, the poem turns by showing how humans try to save things to exemplify the existence of their deceased loved ones. We’ve all tried to save something that helps us remember, hopefully turning into a happy memory over time. This stanza breaks down the process and connects to the first stanza for continuity, helping the reader follow the process. The first line captures this perfectly when the author wrote, “I tried to save us/ the gallina y carne/ pulled from the freezer, at least/ in tailgate coolers/ borrowed from Tío’s garage” (36). But it’s the following lines which reveal the impossibility of holding onto the memories in the present by showing “the edges of the ice rounding/ even as I scooped it out/ with my bare hands burning raw dripping” (36), and it’s the last part of these lines displaying the pain involved when your grief comes from the deepest part of your heart; the place where your vulnerability opens you up to memories making you feel pain from a fire that releases teardrops, never to be ice again.
TRYING YOUR BEST
By revealing the pain of trying to maintain the memory of the loved one, the lines that follow expertly show the melancholic feeling of realizing, even with your best efforts, the memories will fade and change. This heartwarming effort is apparent when the poet wrote, “I tried my best to preserve/ what we had saved/ pero no sirve” (36). However, it’s the next part which captures the impossibility of the poet’s attempt to save memories when she wrote, “the warming earth/ did not stop/ for me” (36). With the poem ending this way, it sends chills to your heart because it’s true; regardless of how hard we try, the earth will continue to spin and live as it wants, making the memories fade, proving the mementos you keep of your loved ones will still have meaning, but the way it makes you cry will lessen until it becomes a regular reality of your new life without the loved one. In totality, this is the second death’s ending; the one we can’t save anyone from.
THE LAST MEMORY
Since the book has so many great poems, it’s no surprise it won the Alta California Prize, making it a challenge to just pick one to showcase in my review; but it was enjoyable because I reread phenomenal poems to get down to one. Each one’s impressive qualities made me want to pry about the muse behind the prose. Therefore, when I realized there was only one poem left, I was sad because I wanted more, especially after reading the one on page 38.
The themes of Crystal’s poems are grief and loss, so you may want to read them privately because the words will evoke emotions from the deepest parts of your soul. If you prefer to read them in Spanish, Emma Trelles perfectly translated each poem, so you’ll get the same effect regardless of which language you choose. Because the book is so well written, you’ll end up wanting more poems; Grief Logic by Crystal AC Salas is a must-read for anyone needing poetic companionship during their moments of grief and loss, and anyone else who loves fantastic poetry.
Thank you for reading our book review about Grief Logic by Crystal AC Salas. We are not affiliated with the publisher, but here’s the link to pick up a copy.
E. R. Sanchez is the author of Fried Potato Press’ first young adult thriller, Petaco Dreams, which will be released in 2024 after the rewrite, new title, and cover. He also has poems and stories published online and in print. If you’d like to read his work that was published online, please click here to go to his Stories and Poetry Section.