The Woman Behind You

Julie Fay, Author University of Pittsburgh Press $12.95 (80p) ISBN 978-0-8229-5682-2
""Much has happened since you left./ The world is dull and people/ cut their hair again/ I don't like the woman I've become."" Working a very well-mined vein of domestic doings, ancestral antecedents and generational pathos, Fay nonetheless often manages to convince in this second collection of verse narratives and ""love poem[s] to our family,/ such as it is."" Fears that a husband's love will consume the poet and their coming child; a mother's death ""in the room where you gave birth to me""; a myth-laden femininity (She darts to/ the circle's center. The heart. The drums."") and the jottings of an American alone and abroad are all familiar, and familiarly rendered. (And there are unbearable stretches: ""You tossed all night/ like a wave/ that doesn't know how/ or where to go."") Yet Fay's sometimes erotically charged lyricism and stoic looks at life have an immediacy that often feels like real conflict. We are left with the sense that small comforts and home-front victories don't come easily here, that the poet has had to work toward ease with herself and her responsibilities: ""The baby we call Jaws/ is asleep. You lay him down/ and his triangle mouth/ makes you think/ one more day,/ I can handle one more."" (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/30/1998
Release date: 12/01/1998
Hardcover - 81 pages - 978-0-8229-4082-1
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