Requitements (Revised Edition, 2015)

Revised Edition, 2015
by Rosemary Starace


Cover of Requitements, rev. 2015, poetry by Rosemary Starace, published by Elelphant Tree House, 2015

Announcing the new, revised edition of Requitements. Starace’s essay, “A Poetics of Adoption” and several additional poems have joined the original collection.

Requitements transcends the unanswerable questions to get at the heart of who we are. Starace finds a balance in her own nature that becomes universal, a personal mystery anyone can identify with. I admire how the understory of loneliness, finding its way through kinship with the natural world, becomes so compelling and uplifting. Theses poems adopt the reader, and it feels right.”
—Barry Sternlieb, author of Winter Crows.

“This is a poetry very much like the blues, full of lacrimae rerum, and reading it, hearing it, I feel the tension unknotting in my gut and a weight lifting in my chest that I didn’t know was there. Dig deep into language and emotion, as Starace does, and thought itself—_something like wind_—may become a luminous presence.”
—Dave Bonta, excerpted from his review of Requitements on Via Negativa.

Requitements is bursting with flocks, broods, and congregations of wavelets, pines, grackles, sunflowers, and other closely-related creatures. The speaker of these poems is, as an adoptee, looking for her place among them. She discovers not only kinship but kindness, her own generous spirit mirrored in a hundred fleeting reflections. Starace finds lovely slant-rhymes between herself and the world, demonstrating vividly that, as her dream-Einstein suggests, all space is compassion.”
—Lesley Wheeler, author of Heterotopia and Radioland

Requitements is a book filled with the ache of yearning and the delight of recognition. Starace sees the world through the double vision of her life as an adoptee, exploring the possibilities of doubleness in language and imagery. Everywhere there are two of everything —two mothers, two identities, even the instruments played in the title poem: the doubled string / the mandolin, the dulcimer. In “I Am Double,” a calling is also a caul, twoness rows her toward her destination.

“And while the speaker in “Confession” wants nothing more than an ordinary road, one senses Starace’s pleasure in the less than ordinary directions she takes in these poems where delight and sorrow live side by side.”

“The poems in Requitements, whether short and haiku-like or long and multi-sectioned, whether observing nature or inquiring into the nature of grief, are clear and true and strong.”
—Michelle Gillett,
author of Blinding the Goldfinches and The Green Cottage

Published by Elephant Tree House, March 2015.


Read more about Elephant Tree House on our “About” page, here. See poems from Requitements below, and more of Rosemary Starace’s work here.
Read a review of Requitements by Dave Bonta on Via Negativa.



The woman who invented velcro.
Five days old they peeled her
from her mother, gave her a crib
among cribs in rows. O babies
like corn or cabbage! Succulent
bodies about to be picked!
Having just been plucked
she knew that music. Call it a dirge
with a catchy hook.

The crazy old lady who swallowed
the fly. While she was sweet,
she lived the lie. But the mirrors
and the stomach knew. The
neighbors, and the envelopes
too. Something buzzed
at all her windows, was it

The aviatrix of the solo flight.
Too restless in the living room,
too pale among the blood. O the tiny cabin
smoothing over endless waves,
and the moon’s so-kindly face
ahead, ahead. She didn’t want
to disembark on the sudden tarmac.

The moon herself,
that half-hidden sister.

And she that launched the Voyager
to its eternal wander. The same
who thought to etch the glyphs
that might one day deliver it
to the next mother’s spiral arms.


I wake in dark to open
curtains, windows, then the door,
to see the young leaves heave
and be a green so yellow, while the wind
occurs and stills and stirs again
like thought;

to hear the day erupt its arcs and towers
from the flats of dawn. There is
no other music like this song
you can walk through, these cries
that every day erect a new cathedral
over daily streets.


A special burden they release, the pines,
when in June their scented pollen falls
yellow, dulls the lamé sheen of cars parked
under them, and dusts the silky lake.
Every grief and chipmunk set a footprint;
fish kiss at water’s surface, leaving
moments of dark clarity that vanish—
like pricks of ache that needle me
yet I cannot explain or grasp them. Yes,

I grabbed for her, what could I do? She was there;
where were you? She fed me juicy orange
quarters and I grinned with orange teeth. She
fed me under trees, she let me drink
the water. I studied it so carefully
for slightest flicker showing from beneath.