In her dizzying second collection, Eilbert (Swan Feast) hypnotically propels readers through the relentless emotional turmoil experienced by victims of abuse. Her poems address both the natural resistance to and the inevitable necessity of exploring one’s own trauma. Eilbert sets the stage for that process through a confrontation with the unsaid: “Let me say of language that it is my currency and performs best when it is stripped of decorum.” Her style is genuine, generous, and unlabored, yet enigmatic in places. “You want to be turned in the dust because/ the dust makes you holy, the dust dries you/ out, the dust dusts your dust as oceans unto/ oceans as shame unto shame,” she writes. “The white lurch of a face is male. See/ how he sees me as dust dusts the dust, the dust’s instructions?” When Eilbert elucidates her abstractions into more tangible metaphors, her brilliance shines through: “Noise of a club// circles back in like a saccharine plague./ The sound of man like the fat that hugs the/ plunged sword.” Equally wise and perplexing, Eilbert’s poems reflect all the troubling ways “we understand others by breaking them apart.” (Jan.)
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