cover image Human Love

Human Love

Doreen Gildroy, . . Univ. of Chicago, $16 (72pp) ISBN 978-0-226-29330-1

Gildroy's tightly focused second effort derives strong emotions, concise phrasings, and difficult wisdom from troubled, years-long efforts to conceive a child. Short, stark lines and stanzas are studded with dramatic generalizations and with rhetorical questions: "When the child wouldn't come/ into existence/ what was I to do?" A history of medical difficulties is tempered by a broad range of reference to Renaissance architectural theorists, Christian doctrinal writings and other parts of European cultural history. Extremes of self-scrutiny and compact abstractions bring Gildroy's style close to Louise Glück's—perhaps too close, as in the opening to Gildroy's poem "Field Work": "When I finally understood I was suffering,/ then you said—No more suffering." Her terse exclamations ("Oh wild, elegant/ landscape—/ everchanging/ hailstorm, light") should also please admirers of Franz Wright. By collection's end, Gildroy (The Little Field of Self ) has fashioned a smart, well-read speaker who never talks down to her readers when placing herself, her loves and her biology in grand philosophical contexts, and staying true to her own body and its goals. She returns to herself with a disillusioned calm, deciding "I can't live this life/ and another." (Oct.)