Twigs and Knucklebones

Sarah Lindsay, Author . Copper Canyon $15 (80p) ISBN 978-1-55659-164-8

Most of the highly detailed scenes in this third collection from Lindsay (Primate Behavior ) come from an invented ancient Near Eastern city called Nab, where Lindsay’s imaginary archeologists excavate evidence of ancient gods, ancient building projects and ancient quandaries not unlike our own: “a dry land pounded down at too many crossroads.” Nab fell victim to shifting “trade routes,/ drought, scouring winds, jerboas and salt.” Superb set pieces imitate modern investigators’ methods: Lindsay gives us a set of infants preserved in jars, the “abashed... new priest of a god without hands” and a “Reconstruction of Temple Area, Seventh Level” that is also a lament for modern old age. Before and after archeology, at the beginning and end of this capacious collection, comes ecology, along with geography and biology. In work reminiscent of Amy Clampitt and of Albert Goldbarth, Lindsay weaves informed and moving lyric claims around scientific facts, lamenting extinct species or following local rivers. Some poems warn us to care better for Earth, and all become reminders of our own short spans here, as when this extraordinary writer envisions her own life as a river, “full/ of salmon shoving upstream to breed and die,/ not one of them saying/ remember, remember me .” (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 09/15/2008
Release date: 10/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
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