When the Horses Ride By

By Kirkus Reviews

Anxiety and resilience are the major themes twining through both Greenfield’s free-verse testimonials and Gilchrist’s impressionistic collages. Using Langston Hughes’s ‘Hold Fast to Dreams’ as her touchstone, the poet takes the voice of children though the ages: wishing that ‘Warriors’ would only march in parades; sharing both fright and laughter with ‘A Child Like Me’ on the other side of the world; waiting for ‘Papa,’ a veteran whose mind is still on the battlefield, to come all the way back home; pretending that soldiers riding by are off to some rescue or other constructive task; finding joy in toys and music — ‘Still, we play/Our toys take us/to happy places.’ Gilchrist blends paint and reworked photos into kaleidoscopic arrays of children’s faces, snatches of historical detail and streams of mixed colors; the effect is panoramic, and ties the poems, which are not specific, to particular cultures or conflicts. Ending on a reassuring note — ‘We give to the world/still,/our wonder, our wisdom,/our laughter, our hope’ — this gathering keeps the violence mostly off-stage, while providing several sad but hopeful ways to relate to its hard reality.