House Made of Silver

Elizabeth Robinson, Author Kelsey Street Press $11 (68p) ISBN 978-0-932716-51-4
""Tea swaying in its cup/ and someday/ all over// red and menthol/ samples of life laying themselves/ on our table."" Invoking Eliot's ""Preludes"" and ""Prufrock"" in one fell swoop, Robinson's latest begins in ""Its Excess"" and ends in ""Emitted Adoration."" In between, the 10 other poems of the collection work in short, quiet, double-spaced or coupleted lines to find an abstract language for religious thought and experience, with mixed results. There are some luminous moments, as when the speaker notes, ""The brick floor from which the/ kingdom of God extends// or could extend/ This is the hard table// with door-like segments of its foldings..."" and the house of the title comes into view. ""For Rain"" imparts shelter indirectly, while ""Nearings"" recalls Fanny Howe in its allegorical puns, ""sand/ stranded in voice."" Those without a predisposition toward reverence will most likely remain unconvinced by most of the poems, however, and will find the hermetic Dickinsonisms a turn-off: ""Circular pillow/ source for provision// I embroider with mature stock// handles on green clothes/ remiss in authority// This is a One/ with a texture// in all things between skin// and cotton..."" But the pretense fades on repeated reading, and the balance and subtle humor of Robinson's project take hold--""An ant/ and a plasterer/ who calls me Effective// white/ and blue/ by my climbing""--allowing the poems to proselytize at will. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
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