The Infinitesimals

Laura Kasischke. Copper Canyon (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (116p) ISBN 978-1-55659-466-3
Kasischke (Space, in Chains) astonishes with her lyricism and metaphorical power as she considers illness and mortality through exacting, imaginative poems. The collection’s formal variety amplifies the mysterious, dreamy settings of these poems, which are grounded in their precise interrogations and astute observations. Poems that begin in hospital rooms are transported to a more fable-like atmosphere: “But, having come to visit my father, I/ knelt down in the desert and parted the sands/ to search for the path on my knees and hands./ I drank from the mirage// of the pond for an answer.” The brevity of Kasischke’s lines movingly captures the absence of death and the limitations on memory, and her mastery of meticulous, though seemingly effortless, description shines throughout, as when she dubs a cake once baked for her father as “Soggy churchbell on a plate,” or describes a tumor as a “terrible frog/ Of moonlight and dampness on a log.” In “Binoculars,” a meditation on consciousness takes on symbolic dimensions, leading to a memory of her mother’s death: “The bird on the other side/ of my binoculars—the cold life-light/ around its mind, which was never/ meant to be seen this clearly by a human being.” Kasischke composed this true wonder of a book with remarkable care, heart, and skill. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/21/2014
Release date: 07/01/2014
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