Elise Paschen, Editor . Red Hen $16.95 (80p) ISBN 978-1-59709-131-2

The passionate, yet controlled, third volume from Paschen (Infidelities ) pursues the likenesses between human beings and other sorts of beasts: Paschen watches domestic animals, visits zoos and backyards, and records the instincts that animate her, as lover, mother, daughter and citizen. Husband and wife “share a wedded habitat”; a mother breastfeeding her daughter “would like to buzz/ into the orchid of your ear,” while a manatee looks to the poet like “a mistaken mermaid,/ on the brink of vanishing from sight.” Paschen offers sonnets, villanelles and even a ghazal, in which butterflies in an exhibit “invent a sky beneath the dome.” Readers might remember not the moments of pure description, but the difficult emotions Paschen describes in her poems about marital love, motherhood and finally a daughter's grief. The urn with her father's ashes dominates one poem, and her late mother's career as a ballet dancer takes over another: “Mother, when I was young, I watched/ you from the wings and saw the sweat,” Paschen writes, saw “your gasp/ for breath. I thought it was your last.” If we are animals, Paschen suggests, we are the animals who look hard at one another, the animals who remember and who mourn. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 12/22/2008
Release date: 00/00/0000
Genre: Fiction
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