The Center for Cold Weather

Cleopatra Mathis, Author
Cleopatra Mathis, Author Sheep Meadow Press $13.95 (89p) ISBN 978-0-935296-84-6
Reviewed on: 11/28/1989
Release date: 12/01/1989
Mathis's ( The Bottom Land ) impressive third collection abounds with broadly outlined images: she writes of ``the dead ones,'' ``a blind man'' and ``the senile one,'' continually shifting and modifying the identity of the ``you'' who is addressed. These spectral presences, however, become tangible in poetry that intertwines human deaths with death in nature. ``The land won't keep / this flood,'' Mathis observes in ``Dancer Among the Constellations''; in ``The Competition,'' arranging dried flowers prompts the speaker to ask, ``What are the ghosts to my elaborate baskets?'' Death comes to comprise the passing of people, the end of a marriage, the mortality of insects, the loss of innocence of a child who ``saw the cat yanked from mouth to mouth, / broken and torn'' by dogs. Only two characters emerge relatively intact from this welter of decline, in ``The Starling Is a Beautiful Bird'': a man (no longer alive) and a woman (being born) who strike a memorable balance between death and life. (Dec.)
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