If Seasons Were Kingdoms

If Seasons Were Kingdoms
Margaret Koger
Fernwood Press


If Seasons Were Kingdoms is a beautiful, riddling book. Enriched with mythological, classical allusions and scientific terminology, Margaret Koger’s poems often begin with simple, sight-specific images or scenes from nature. The poet then expands these images into broader, more global observations. The eerie cry of a wild swan reminds the poet that she lives “by naming days.” She also uses unexpected verbs to flesh out her nature imagery: “Spring roots knuckle the earth,” “A glassy lake / spits leaping cutthroat,” “Pollen scents clamor,” “Snow skiffs on branches,” and “Wind . . . never forgets my name.” The seasons culminate in the final question of the book: “Does anyone hear the owl’s voice, or yours / or mine, speaking of our ages and what / we’ve learned or have yet to do / before crossing into moonlight?” Margaret Koger hears the owl’s voice, the river’s, the salmon’s, and the mountain’s. Her poems speak their words. 

Barbara Olic-Hamilton writes reviews for BookWomen: A Reader’s Community for Those Who Love Women’s Words as well as her own accomplished fiction, memoir, and poetry

In Margaret Koger’s If Seasons Were Kingdoms, the poet leads us on a journey riddled with puzzles, on a search for the narrator. Loss, time, space, need, nature, birds, birds in flight, scenes of nature pure and simple and profound, more need, much need, a journey, a fox, deer and more deer, a narrator’s intimate mating with nature. Written, as the poetry says, in a “Braille of clean air.”

Ken Rodgers is the author of The Gods of Angkor Wat, a poet, and co-director of the award-winning documentaries: Bravo!Common MenUncommon Valor, and I Married the War

In If Seasons Were Kingdoms, we have a speaker who ventures forth among the robins and the swans, the killdeer and the finches, the avocets and the herons, and reports back to us, the fortunate readers, on “what my forefathers didn’t know”: this close communion, this vision of the earth as “a prospectus for seeds,” everywhere the possibility of further fecundities. There’s more than a bit of the Rilkean imperative here-You must change your life-but what calls us to it in If Seasons Were Kingdoms is not the archaic but the immediate: “How deer hold/barely breathing,”

the poet says, and follows this with “See? Who are you?” It’s a question, the poet asserts-and I believe her-that we have to leave our houses to answer. 

Kerri Webster is the Idaho Writer-in-Residence for 2024-2025 and the author of four books of poetry: LapisThe TrailheadGrand & Arsenal, and We Do Not Eat Our Hearts Alone

Margaret Koger

was raised on an acreage near the Snake River after electricity came to rural Idaho but before her parents could afford to buy her a pony. She survived and later moved to Boise, where she taught English and composition in the Boise schools and at Boise State University. She is a Lascaux Prize finalist whose works appear in numerous journals online and in print as well as in the collection What These Hands Remember (Kelsay, 2022).


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