The Turpentine Tree employs strong, sensuous imagery to explore displacement, solitude and the search for connection. Drawing on memories from a life uprooted by time spent at sea, widowhood, and loss, she conjures vivid portraits of family, friends and loved ones. Often these recollections are bittersweet, recalling friends and lovers lost, including her later partner, Dannie Abse.
From her experiences of loss and solitude come landscapes of silence: atmospheric, rich in emotion, exploratory and questioning. Hjelmgaard’s poems reveal uncertainty, loneliness and longing but also celebration. Others take solace from ocean journeys that still inform her present and from what is garnered from the natural world. Celebrating universal themes of love, loss and letting go, this tender collection is a reminder of how it feels to be alive.