review by Nora Drutz, Canadian Book Review Annual
In the Zen religion, truth can be obtained by self-knowledge
and introspection, leading to an intuition of the principles underlying
the universe. In the "Zen Forest" of experience, Zonailo,
through her own introspections and meditations, reveals these
truths, the individual as past of the universal harmony. She deals
with such elemental truths as life, love, death, rebirth, and
the afterlife. An event or scene from nature, such as a sunny
afternoon at the beach, is often the starting point for philosophical
abstractions. Zonailo deals with opposites: darkness/light, death/rebirth,
etc. Elements of nature symbolize rebirth and continuity. Light
symbolizes creation and love. Water represents our primordial
origins, a place of buoyance and freedom. Air represents constraint,
an ambience where we languish. According to Zonailo, we are alone
in the universe, bereft of religious consolation. "We move
towards embrace or toward space / In between, nothingness."
She doubts the Elysian Fields, but wonders about the Revelation.
We are "brave and forlorn...traveling / toward some kind
of destination... We're surrounded by danger, / poised on the
edge / of extinction or discovery, / waiting for revelation. /
Will the same flowers bloom / in our afterlife?" Love and
human relations are our only salvation.
Zen Forest is not a dry
and arid book. It is rooted in the here and now, on the beaches
and Marine Drives of Vancouver. There is a muted and delicate
feeling to the work: "Grey sea grass," "muted river
tones," "pale ghostly flowers," "pale pink
tulips / with tongue coloured petals," "rain clouds...
obscuring the sharp outline of mountain." Her style is spare,
clear, simple, and intimate, as if she were having a private conversation
with the reader. Sometimes the message is too delicate, too simple,
a little banal. However, for the most part, there is an immediacy
and power to the work. One comes away profoundly moved.
Copyright by Nora Drutz: www.carolynzonailo.com,