Field Guide to the Lost Flower of Crete

Island life carries on while a beautiful woman lies in a coma surrounded by friends and lovers.

Thyme clings, high / and away from the grazing and scents / the air.

Island reality is interconnected with live-retrieved memories in which a nurse follows a violent patient into the northern Canadian bush, a migrant mother faces her new job as the village butcher, an Ojibway man is forced to walk a dangerous route home alone, teenagers loot the local dump to build their mother’s wheelchair, and an electrician watches a woman play a grand piano on a ballfield.

A (re)creation of the surreality and altered time within deep states of grieving, Field Guide to the Lost Flower of Crete juxtaposes sorrow with fragmentary unapologetic joy. Eleonore Schönmaier forges compelling symphonic resonances between European musical encounters and a northern working-class childhood. By centring her experiential empathy on a history of racism and poverty, she guides us into better ways of being. Intimate reflections are contrasted with geopolitical and environmental concerns as Schönmaier’s fierce intelligence focuses on what is most essential in our lives.

The arc of this collection offers a rejuvenating meditation on the meaning of loss and love, highlighted by the lyric beauty of the writing.

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