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Books Noted: Tom Healy, What the Right Hand Knows


Four Way Books, 2009

In What the Right Hand Knows, Tom Healy looks with a careful, interested eye at the moments that register as exemplary of this strange world and his own life. Richard Howard writes in his glowing introduction to the book, "There is a certain sorcery in this book. The elegantly stoic observations of this poet's sumptuously tattered life reproach any guess at the speaker's age. Is it because he has (has always had?) so much conjuration in him that the wisdom seems so ageless, so innocent, in the welter of so much shameless acknowledgement?" The life evoked in the poems has ranged from farm-bound to city-smart, from sexual innocence to knowing love. In a poem about learning to land a plane, Healy writes:

There was a slow lift
from the body

below me breathing—
the world unfolded

and I let go.

Healy lets go in his work, then lands with strength and trust.

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