More light comes, she says, through horizonal windows: this is why her poems are in prose, and I suppose it’s also why the book is square, opening into double panes the color of thick cream. In the oddly blurry author photo on the back cover, she rests one, over-exposed hand on the branch of a Japanese maple in its autumn glory, but inside, the world is sharply focused, and more often than not it’s winter or early spring. She has numbers for the mailman — 1, 2 and 3 — rather than letters. Whatever she sees she becomes, or wants to, until it threatens to crush her in thirteen chapters. I don’t know that I have ever read a poet so attentive to the breathing of other people. She notices the spaces filled by flying snow, shadows, and the smoke from her neighbor’s chimney: “Nothing so small it does not drag an immense tail along behind it.” She listens to children. “What exactly did Kryptonite do to Superman? Krypton: his birthplace. Did it make him homesick?” The publisher’s logo, a woolly mammoth drawn in too-great detail, appears twice, the first time on the half-title page, a sombre, hairy contradiction to the words above it, These Happy Eyes. As I read, slumped in a plastic stack chair on my porch on the morning of April 1, three deer walk by in their ragged molting pelts, ears backlit and veined like autumn leaves that forgot to stop clinging. Woodpeckers drum, and some of the birds whose names this poet doesn’t appear to know become almost anonymous again, the familiar turning unknown — just the opposite of what she quotes Hölderlin as saying. I find an old index card with the draft of a poem scribbled on it and tear it into little bookmarks. Soon the book is bristling with these fragments, which are the same cream color as the pages. “I am,” she says, “not made the way I was taught to be.” My furnace rumbles to a halt and I catch my breath, read the last two poems in a new-found silence.
(Click on the thumbnail to go to the book’s page in Open Library.)