The poems in Until the Full Moon Has Its Say were inspired by the loss of poet Conrad Hilberry’s wife of fifty-six years, Marion. While the poems in this volume delve into the initial emptiness and hopelessness of grieving, Hilberry explores elements of music, the natural world, and human connections that bring him back into the present while still acknowledging and honoring the past. The work of a skilled poet with a lifetime of experience, Until the Full Moon Has Its Say displays Hilberry’s mastery of both form—including a variety of stanza structures, a sonnet, and five villanelles—and tone, which is contemplative, tender, and moving.
In three sections, the elegant and insightful poems of Until the Full Moon Has Its Say arise from their consideration of ordinary, even humble, subjects—a bowl on a table, a blackout, mosquitoes, garlic mustard, algae on the local pond. Hilberry’s relaxed voice is wise and measured even in the depths of grief, as he muses “April takes down my love— / wrong season for dying” and “How can I draw dead branches / in a poem.” Part of the answer to that question lies in the use of form, which gives shape to experience. In his formal virtuosity, Hilberry even writes a villanelle—a notoriously difficult poetic form—about writing a villanelle.
Written by the poet in his eighties, Until the Full Moon Has Its Say is a powerful reflection on mortality and on the art that has been his lifelong practice. All readers of poetry will treasure this powerful volume.