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The poems in Norma Cole's latest book exude a distinct feeling of standing at the edge of one possible world and looking out onto another—with the complexities of love and war hanging in the balance. The poems are spare—often written in three stanzas made up of three or four word lines—but grapple with questions such as: What does it mean to be at war? What are facts? When does the past begin? From the largeness of these questions come revelations about the simultaneous grandeur and futility of human experience. In a poem from the longer series "14,000 Facts" Cole writes
The limits of my
language are not
the limits of my
the pink cloud
The limitlessness of dreaming reveals itself as the both the cycle and the book come to an end; the very last line reads: "This proves I dreamed" and the poems themselves do feel like prize-remnants from a dream, like pieces of knowledge gleaned from living with tenderness.
This book review originally appeared in American Poets.