Introducing Cheryl Seely Savage: “We Have Time”

True or false: People talk about love all the time, but no one writes much about it. On one hand, it could be argued that love is all there is (apologies to various lyricists), with all art and life based on it. On the other, an entire volume of love poems has the look and feel of a rarity in our day. We welcome, therefore, “We Have Time” by Cheryl Seely Savage.

This volume is the poet’s third, following “Give Me a Fragment: Glimpses Into Motherhood, Depression, and Hope” and “Carve a Place for Me.” Praise for those volumes has been high: commenters admire Savage’s love of words, her ability to connect, and her use of the common to show a universality of feeling. Melissa Dalton-Bradford notes that she “achieves that delicate balance between uplift and density.”

Diversity is a good word to describe the poems in “We Have Time.” Some are just a few lines long. In “Longing,” we have “If I could kiss you/ All my gathered questions would/ Answer to your touch.”

Six full pages are needed for the explanation of a trip to Jane Austen’s home in “Pilgrimage: A Narrative.” This is not a prose poem, however, works better than a travelogue because of the rich language and depth of mood. Savage describes not only her feelings but also the history of England, not just as a journey but also as an homage to Austen. Savage clearly loves Austen (“Love Like Austen, “too), but her reasons reflect a density difficult to summarize.

Two elements are notable in her regard for Austen. First, time plays a crucial role both as a limiting factor and as a gift. In high anticipation, Savage reports arriving at the village of Chawton only 30 minutes before the museum was to close. Yet, “Museum workers gave us 45 minutes,” she writes. Memory couples with time. Her husband (unnamed here) takes a bit of mud from the garden and swipes it on the title page of Northanger Abbey: “Grinning at my surprise: ‘You now have a part of her.’” A symbolic action, but a beautiful testament to the influence of a brilliant writer on a modern heart.

One common complaint about modern poetry is that it can be abstruse (difficult to understand). An object lesson there—sometimes writers choose unfamiliar words to reflect everyday reactions. There’s no reason to. “Omphaloskepsis” just means “navel gazing,” after all. Savage avoids this pitfall. “Holding Hands” begins simply: “Some say love begins with a smile.” She then recounts a night of dancing and stars, with a concluding “My hand never leaving yours”. That image captures a moment universal in its appeal and, importantly, immediately accessible.

Finally, a few words about the title “We Have Time.” Often, we ask, “Do we have time for a quick trip to the store?” or “Do you have time to start dinner?” By making a short declaration, Savage captures something almost indefinable in love relationships—the play between time and eternity. We are reminded with every loss that we don’t know the time we have. In our faith, we know that eternity is to be our inheritance. Applying these two concepts to our love lives, Savage finds a side of humanity to explore on many levels. A love that is sure, that is deep and abiding—that is indeed the love for which we have time and will, perhaps literally, make time.

So, “We Have Time” is recommended! Available on Amazon…