cover image Sub Rosa: Poems

Sub Rosa: Poems

Susan Prospere. W. W. Norton & Company, $18.95 (90pp) ISBN 978-0-393-03095-2

The poems in this, Prospere's first book, occupy that kind of narrative and descriptive poetry that at its best produces startlingly new realizations of the familiar or universal--and this her poetry does. In ``Heavenly Bodies,'' Prospere writes: ``My father's cataracts float / in formalin in the medicine cabinet, / though he can name the states in geographical order / and the constellations, / by picturing them in the darkness of his head.'' In ``House of Straw,'' she recalls her brothers' efforts to conceal the hole in the wall of their room made with an errant baseball: ``They covered the hole with a map of the world, / and for years they kept it a secret, / the darkness spiraling, unknown . . . '' Unfortunately, some of her poems here are precious and repetitious. In ``Tunnel of Love'' we read about ``Little Thumb,'' who ``left the mole and the linen / trousseau four spiders wove for her / on a wire form, no larger than a thimble.'' Prospere obviously has a rich fund of experience, and yet can write as spare a stanza as ``Not much in my life has gone the way I wanted, / and I believe that we go a long time / under the earth without seeing.'' One would think she should have little use for such foils as a mermaid, ``the Elf Hill ball,'' and ``hollow maidens / dancing in the hallway / with scarves of mist and moonshine.'' (Apr.)