Copper Canyon Press, 2011
Laura Kasischke's eighth book of poetry uses stripped-down, simple language to present complex portraits of grieving and the ties that bind families together. Often, a simple image renders a deep awareness of memory, lineage, and family history; in one poem, the speaker cracks a cherished plate while wrapping it in tissue, "as if the worship of a thing might be the thing that breaks it." In another poem, the speaker's father gives her son a package of cookies he has saved from his hospital lunch tray. Many of the poems explore the relationship between parent and child, aging and the elderly, and the frustration and heartbreak of illness. The poems are courageous in that they are unafraid to be uneven: to leave a question unanswered, a sentence unfinished, an image hazy. From "My son makes a gesture my mother used to make":
My son makes a gesture my mother used to make. The sun
in their eyes.
Fluttering their fingers. As if to disperse it.
He does it again. The sun, like the drifting ashes of a distant
past. The petals
Of some exploded yellow roses.
The miracle of it.
The double helix of it.
The water running uphill of it.