cover image Heaven-And-Earth House

Heaven-And-Earth House

Mary Swander, Author Alfred A. Knopf $20 (84p) ISBN 978-0-679-42984-5

Swander ( Driving the Body Back ) writes with zealous music of Midwestern rural encounters--of keeping company with a goat ``satyrette'' who is due to give birth; of waiting in the cellar for an expected tornado; or simply of noting the endurance of okra (``teach me the secret / of your stalks''). Her vigor as a writer seems very like nature's: ``I risk and run the mutt down, dodging horse plops /and buggy ruts.'' But Swander rarely excludes the human from the natural. Her most telling poetry is firmly peopled, whether by a narrator or by others observed in the midst of a place. Part of her work's pleasure is the tones of voice she evokes in it--``Praise the Lord and pass the setting gel. / Honey, I thought I knew what hell was until I entered / this hospital''--and the turns of thought that voice can lead to. Swander's writing is more accessible than poetry is sometimes believed to be, yet sacrifices nothing by opening a pathway with ``common'' language; the rhythms of weather, humor and talk body forth with an engaging confidence and candor. (May)