I Can't Remember: Poems

Cynthia MacDonald, Author Alfred A. Knopf $21 (96p) ISBN 978-0-679-45457-1
Throughout her sixth collection, Macdonald (Living Wills, 1991) wanders a diverse landscape to explore the nature of inspiration. Cassatt, Vermeer, da Vinci, Utamaro and others orient the poet as she leaps between an imagined past and the reality of work. In ""How William Solomon Invokes Free Will,"" she turns beneath the surface of earth and self: ""The sky is no longer the limit./ Water is. What surfaces from down below, the stains/ the spoils, are messages from them, from you, to me."" In the violent and vibrant chicken poems of the second of the book's four parts, the poet addresses the relationship between art and artist. The litany of hares and fowls named in ""Retrieval"" ends in the present: ""a Blacktailed Jackrabbit,/ a Creve Coeur rooster./ I am trying to remember."" This ideal of invocation as self-inspiration is most precise and powerful in the final piece, ""Divining Rod."" Macdonald defies the flat conversational moments of several poems in the symbolic search for a new wellspring: ""Let's move along the lot of circumstances/ and find such water as we can. For we/ are near the twice-ruled boundary of our plot."" In her attempts to locate the source of her own inspiration, Macdonald addressses what she does not know with lyric wit and clarity. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 79 pages - 978-0-679-76608-7
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