Under That Silky Roof

Elizabeth Robinson, Author . Burning Deck $14 (80p) ISBN 978-1-886224-71-1

Beginning with an egg and ending with a child, 2001 National Poetry Series–winner Robinson meditates in her new collection upon the journey between conception and birth with delicacy and richness. In short, elegant, at times prosaic and at times abstract lines arranged in couplets, double-spaced stanzas or other spare free verse forms, Robinson (Apprehend , 2003) creates stream-of-consciousness sequences and parables that narrate the desire to find something that was lost or never was, manifested as the unborn child. In one poem, a man wants to claim a golden egg balancing on a fence, but is told "someone put it here on purpose Leave it/there, so they'll find/it again." Soon, "the possibility of finding again/ fills up all space." Occasionally Robinson's penchant for abstraction makes the poems feel stilted and removed ("Her/ corporeal reference/ pointing liquidly to omission,/ to what unfooted augmentation") but mostly Robinson grounds these poems with reminders of the world's physicality: "teeth, stubble, the particular/ clarity of respiration in the darkness/ What chews or speaks or gambols/ under that silky roof." Her simplest statements are her most powerful, such as the book's final line, which movingly evokes a life disrupted by something that does not yet exist: "The child is a pea under the mattress/ they balance so high over." (Sept. 15)

Reviewed on: 07/31/2006
Release date: 01/01/2006
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