The Lesser Fields

Rob Schlegel, Author . Center for Literary Publishing $15.95 (54p) ISBN 978-1-885635-12-9

Schlegel's debut, winner of the 2009 Colorado Prize for Poetry, presents a stark, haunted landscape, as expansive as it is lonesome and yet quietly inviting. It's a world where the mind projects its solitude onto nature while nature returns the favor. “Here and not here,” says Schlegel, “I breath away/ the parts of myself I no longer require.” A lost lover knits with the natural world after death (“Tonight, her name is a leaf covering/ my left eye. The right I close/ for the wind to stitch shut with thread/ from the dress she wore into the grave/ where the determined roots of the tree/ are making a braid around her body”); elsewhere another lover is able to “fill the bath with everything that has/ Or could ever happen between us,” imbuing everyday domestic tasks like bathing with symbolic portent in language both straightforward and seductive. A series of haiku-like “November Deaths” ekes out little truths (“But for the tip of land/ At which the vessel is aimed/ There is nothing to steady its course”) and another series of “Lives” asks, in various ways, “Toward what am I drawn?” Answers are everywhere in this promising first book. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 12/21/2009
Release date: 02/01/2010
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