Animal Eye

Paisley Rekdal. Univ. of Pittsburgh, $15.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-0-8229-6179-6
Rekdal’s fourth collection is relentlessly heartbreaking and intense, but also full of the pleasures of closely observed detail and imagination given free rein. In poems long and short, Rekdal looks at paintings and wax models (“on the first floor of Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum/ you can find celebrities and sports stars, every politician of note/ though you will not see these same figures five years in a row:// there is death even for the deathless”), a stuffed fox (“Nothing was ever this slinking”), a front-yard garden, a bouquet of flowers, all of which become harsh mirrors reflecting the painful lessons of lost love. “What’s the point of pain if it heals,” Rekdal asks, thinking of finding new love after divorce: these poems don’t want to be let off easy. Even tango lessons aren’t just for fun: “The point is not to give yourself away but to connect/ as closely as you are able to// your partner’s will in the embrace, so that intent/ slides seamlessly through two// sets of veins.” There’s a bit of willful masochism in this dance—in any of life’s various dances—when the goal is to join “two separate hearts.” (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/20/2012
Release date: 02/01/2012
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