cover image The Halo

The Halo

C. Dale Young. Four Way (UPNE, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-1-935536-68-0

In this beautifully written and unsettling collection, Young (Torn) moves through the moments of his speaker's oft-broken life as he struggles to come to terms with the truths of his body and the world in which he exists. For much of the book, the speaker hovers between past traumas and how they affect his present%E2%80%94learning as a boy "to avoid danger, avoid fear" and as an adult recovering from a fractured spine caused by a car accident: "The dream/ always starts with the sound of breaking glass,/ the still surprising smell of burning rubber." It appears that Young wants the reader to take these experiences literally, but they also double as conceits for the mental and physical pains that derive from his speaker's attempts to negotiate his Catholicism with his homosexuality: "Because my wings had already erupted from between/ my shoulder blades. Because I had coveted/ another man in that secret space of my own head." Although these metaphors are well constructed, it seems that even Young is aware that, at times, they exist more to obscure than to reveal his speaker's truths: "Much of this world remains hidden, and/ all the science in the world cannot illuminate/ every dark corner, much less the corners of the mind." (Mar.)