Lisa Stice — A Spot of Land to Call Home: A Review of Stephen Page’s “A Ranch Bordering the Salty River”

Book Review

a-ranch-bordering-the-salty-river            A Ranch Bordering the Salty River welcomes the reader to a ranch in Argentina. The poems link together to tell the story of a new rancher who is a long way from his home. Love of another person and love of land have brought Jonathan to country he must quickly get to know if he is going to be successful.

            Throughout the chapbook, the speaker vacillates between absorbing the beauty of the ranch with its surrounding landscape and the hardships that befall this new lifestyle. At times, Jonathan can “sit on [the] patio” gazing at “[t]he saplings Teresa planted / on the day [they] moved in together” (“On the Culture of Mate”), but drought, cattle rustlers, unending work, and contemporary environmental issues all interrupt the peacefulness.

            Tension fosters perseverance. In the epistle poem “Dear Santa Ana,” the speaker catalogues all his achievements: recovering and fixing a stolen telephone-fax, building a brick bathroom, interviewing ranch hands, replacing locks on gates, and other needed tasks. Although far from an appreciation of nature’s beauty, poems like this one show a different appreciation of nature. Nature is powerful, yet easily exploited. Page’s poems recognize this. The speaker will sweat out hours of the day to protect his piece of land and to protect all the animals living on it.

            Page’s chapbook speaks to a sense of duty all of us have to protect what we love, to preserve nature, and to give our lives purpose.

A Ranch Bordering the Salty River by Stephen Page (Finishing Line Press) – $19.99

Stephen Page

Stephen Page is part Shawnee and part Apache.  His other books of poetry include The Timbre of Sand (1999) and Still Dandelions (2004).  He graduated from Palomar College, Columbia University (with honors), and Bennington College.  He recieved a Jess Cloud Memorial Prize for Poetry, a Writer-in-Residence with stipend from the Montana Artists Refuge, a full Writer Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center, an Imagination Grant from Cleveland State University, and an Arvon Foundation Ltd. Grant. His book reviews are published regularly in the Buenos Aires Herald and on Fox Chase Review. Page also writes short stories, novels, screen plays.  He has taught literature, ESL, and film studies.  He loves family, spontaneous road trips, and throwing his cellphone into a large body of water.


Lisa Stice is a poet/mother/military spouse. She is the author of two full-length collections, Permanent Change of Station (Middle West Press, 2018) and Uniform (Aldrich Press, 2016), and a chapbook, Desert (Prolific Press). While it is difficult to say where home is, she currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, daughter and dog. Visit her here! and at Facebook / Twitter.

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