- Publisher: Kelsay Books
- Available in: Paperback
- ISBN: 978-1945752322
- Published: January 26, 2017
Unhesitatingly lucid, Sarah Dickenson Snyder, in The Human Contract, examines her path through childhood, marriage, motherhood, the passing of parents, her own aging, with candor and poetic skill. Though she says in the beginning: “I need to right / myself,” as if buried by an avalanche, by the end we understand she has always been “moving toward a light.” Stunningly, Snyder reveals her mother as someone who did not offer much warmth and openness (“Hold still, she says / before she hurts me”) but clearly this poet has made the wise decision to be a different kind of parent to her children: tender and accepting. Read and enjoy The Human Contract for its deep intelligence, humor, and self-awareness arising from a life examined.
~Laura Foley, Night Ringing
On road trips and escalators, from “an abortion, a whine deep / within me” to “beloved lilacs, / just baked almond cake / the crowns of her children’s heads,” these lovely poems move through time, across generations and lifetimes, to create a sort of timeless family album. The Human Contract takes up the small, the almost forgotten, the everyday, and looks close, close enough to show their “undiminished holiness.”
~Jill McDonough, Habeas Corpus, Where You Live
The Human Contract acts as a prayer invoking the vital connection we all share, moving through Snyder’s life as teacher, wife, and mother, then to caregiver for her aging parents, and ultimately back to the poet’s beginnings and the formation of her worldview. An early poem, “Angelology” finds the poet receiving the Heimlich maneuver from a man she flagged down on the highway. His action is sudden as he pulls her to him, her “back against his chest.” Snyder’s human contract obligates us to trust in our better angels and ultimately to save each other. This is not easy, and familial relationships expose the failures and triumphs of caring. Poems of mothering especially scrutinize our limits. The poet writes in “Mortal Mothering” of blessing her children as they head out to school—“tacit mantras . . . you are wanted, loved . . . feeble armor,” but it is faith that the world will receive her children and they will live. This poet believes wholeheartedly in the connectedness of humanity, letting this belief trump fear and quiet doubt.
~Carol Hobbs, The World’s Last Polar Bear