Ghost Volcano: Poems

Sandra M. Gilbert, Author W. W. Norton & Company $17.95 (111p) ISBN 978-0-393-03783-8
Gilbert (Emily's Bread) gathers her poems written in memory of her husband whose sudden death in 1991 she chronicled in prose in Wrongful Death (Norton, 1995). The lyric poems of the sections titled ``Widow's Walk'' comprise a dated, chronological narrative in which she tracks the stages of grief, closely considering personal and philosophical aspects of loss in each. In the first of these poems she and a friend fly over ``the grooved grim face'' of Mount Rainier: ``My husband's face, I told her. Dead/ and gigantic and frozen in reproach...a mirage on the horizon:/ ghost volcano.'' These poems, all tied to Gilbert's specific experiences of mourning, come in groups separated by four less clinically self-aware, wider-ranging and more forcefully emotional elegaic works. In one of these, ``Notes on Masada,'' Gilbert addresses her husband's Jewish heritage during a visit to Mea Shearim. Reminded that she's not Jewish, Gilbert replies: ``I know. I know a Jew must be born/ from the mother, from the bloody/ flesh: the zealots wouldn't/ have bothered to strike me dead--would they--/ at the hot top of Masada.'' Vulnerable, bitter and courageous, Gilbert confronts grief directly--and endures. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
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