By Jeanne E. Clark
"Mercy is a lie, is a lie, is a li- / lac cutting from the neighbor's ancient bush. / My hands are his secret." These lines, from the opening poem in GORRILL'S ORCHARD, hint at the book's overall enterprise, which is the fashioning of pain into something closer to release, a transformation that generously includes--indeed, is made possible by--the dogs Clark has rescued and helped rehabilitate for the past several years. "Chainlink, shit, and stone-- / prison and home. Fierce sunlight. / Tin bucket spilled." So goes one of the haikus within a haibun about a dog named Pilot, brought shaking from a shelter to Clark's home near an almond orchard in Northern California. Over the course of the book, the reader comes to see that the work of the orchard, its blossoming, fruiting, and harvest, mirrors the work of the poet and her several charges.