cover image Bright Raft in the Afterweather: Poems

Bright Raft in the Afterweather: Poems

Jennifer Elise Foerster. Univ. of Arizona, $16.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-0-8165-3733-4

In her powerful second collection, Foerster (Leaving Tulsa) wrestles with ecological wreckage and Native American lineage. The opening poem sets a even-keeled tone for what would be an otherwise solemn record of human destruction of the natural world, skillfully weaving lyric mythology with a conversation between the speaker and Hoktvlwv, an elderly Mvskoke woman. With “the ocean rusted,” Hoktvlwv hums and “stacks bright/ coins in her cart,” leaving deep and jagged tracks in her wake. The poems that follow tread the line between detachment and mystery, often leaving only a fragmented personal record of the devastated landscape: “A line of dust divides us—narwhale/ and ghost—ancient stream/ whose sound remains/ floodland/ arroyo/ yucca/ saguaro.” Though Foerster risks recreating well-worn motifs of heartbreak and loss through a speaker who remains elusive, the sensory experiences of Hoktvlwv and the other unnamed women in the collection create a necessary, joyful counterpoint, even when violent: “Hoktvlwv walks out in the moonrise.// She wakes the nightingales, pierces their throats,/ steals the eggs and the blind chicks crackling.// The males are singing their joyous notes.” Though at times disorienting, Foerster’s efforts to document a disintegrating world add up to in an impressive record of survival. (Feb.)