cover image The Water Books

The Water Books

Judith Vollmer. Autumn House (, $14.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-932870-54-1

In the poems of her new collection, Vollmer seeks connections to her Pennsylvania homeland (“Rocks in human-like shapes lift their knees/ in the shallows, getting a taste of lunar light”), imagines life in far-flung places in poems of travel, especially to Italy (“If I really owned this land/ I would like to lie down on it through thirty seasons”), and thinks hard about women—their bodies, their mortality, their love. Often she writes poems that stretch several pages and in varied stanzas and lines, as though tracing different kinds of thoughts. Travel becomes not a means of escape but a way of contemplating the possibilities of where one is and what one can accomplish: “if you have to you can fly across the United States/ on a plane made of two aluminum panels, the movement/ of your own body, & a small engine you can/ cut or start as needed.” Inevitable loss—of loved ones, places, time—has its advantages, these poems attest, as in one prose poem about luggage gone missing: “‘Are you suffering? Isn’t it good to lose a little baggage?” (Jan.)