Spirit Bodies: Poems by David McKain

David McKain, Author Greenfield Review Press $9.94 (64p) ISBN 978-0-87886-133-0
Although grounded in everyday reality, McKain ( The Common Life ) sees existence as a spiritual continuum in which his actions and perceptions are tied inexorably to lives lived in far away places and times. In the title poem, the act of grinding coffee conjures the presence of those who picked the beans, ``the dark men / who chew cocoa leaves in the mountains . . . spirit bodies to make us remember.'' A walk in winter through a gray industrial town brings to mind Van Gogh's letters from a coal-mining district in Belgium. Prompted by the painter's words and images, McKain discerns a supernatural light beyond his cold, sooty circumstances: ``At the edge of our lives there's a glow / from a pair of boots beside the door.'' The poet's images are controlled yet sensuous, focused with a clear, unsentimental eye on childhood, travel and old age. At times, however, his rational voice removes him too far from the emotional dynamics he describes, so that painful scenes, like his father's physical deterioration, seem to have been witnessed by an uninvolved spectator. But overall, these poems speak poignantly of the immortal meaning inherent in each human life, great or small. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1990
Release date: 12/01/1990
Genre: Fiction
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