cover image Nervous System

Nervous System

Rosalie Moffett. Ecco, $14.99 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-0-06-293021-7

Winner of the National Poetry Series, the contemplative second book from Moffett (June in Eden) sifts through one pivotal event—the poet’s mother’s brain injury after a fall—and how its repercussions rippled across the years that followed. Conscientiously associative, the poem features recurring symbols that represent the event, most significantly the spider, whose web is like the nerves of the brain, “a meshwork of silk rope bridges.” Other themes include vegetation, light and vision set against dark and blindness (she describes her mother as “the one who once shielded me in her body like a lit match”), and memory and dreams. Moffett’s cadence is effortlessly elegant; even her description of head trauma is achingly beautiful: “This, with/ a ringing like what, when shaken, the dead/ lightbulb makes.” Though never morose, the book is suffused with grief as the poet mourns a piece of her mother that is gone and uses that experience to prepare for a later, more final grief, whenever it may come: “the me who’s been/ smoothing a spot in my mind for years, like a dog/ turning in circles.” Moffett creates order out of the chaos in this radiant collection, cataloging the known and unknown into a coherent story for both the reader and herself. (Oct.)