From the Bones Out

Marisa de los Santos, Author
Marisa de los Santos, Author University of South Carolina Press $14.95 (96p) ISBN 978-1-57003-323-0
Hardcover - 90 pages - 978-1-57003-322-3
Hardcover - 94 pages - 978-1-57003-320-9
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""My lover tells me I am like this place./ I tell him what I miss: the slap of leaves/ on skin and air that's like a damp embrace."" The poems of this debut have a Cinderella-like innocence, transforming ugliness into beauty and waving the wand of well-crafted metaphor over all they encounter. The horrific suicide of a grandfather, a mother's cancer, the mourning for a stillborn child, the potential foreclosure of a neighbor's farm are all recounted with a refined clarity. Yet through it all, de los Santos manages to frame life's traumas with a voice that can seem borrowed from the Stage Manager in Our Town: ""Some years/ were fair, but most were bad./ The taxes, worse than weevil, tried/ to take each dime she had."" However, there are also poems, such as ""Io's Gift,"" that evoke, through their subtlety and sensuality, the pleasures of the ever-changing consciousness of the female body: ""I learned myself, bit/ by bit, or maybe I/ should say I dawned/ upon myself, a slow dawning."" There are also glamorous poems, including ""Supermodel,"" and ""Perfect Dress,"" in which the poet indulges in herself as an object of perfect beauty: ""Someone will murmur,/ `She is sublime,'/ will be precisely right, and I will step,/ with incandescent shoulders,/ into my perfect evening."" In its worked simplicity, this is a first book that offers a formula of hope and clarity when confronting life's trials and tribulations. (Apr.)
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