Marvels of the Invisible

Jenny Molberg. Tupelo, $16.95 trade paper (76p) ISBN 978-1-936797-92-9
Molberg takes the unlikely, unseeable, and impossible and gives them narratives of their own in this lyrically imaginative debut. The world of the book is hopeful even when it is precarious; in “Superficial Heart,” Molberg ponders the life of a child born with a heart outside of her body, had she survived. Even in the book’s moments of grief, Molberg always offers renewal: “when a whale dies, it lives a second time./ It must drop to great depths, then an ecosystem/ is born of its body.” Water, ever-malleable, is a driving metaphor, and the metamorphosis of a liquefying caterpillar that “builds a shell around itself/ dissolves, becomes another thing” operates as an act of faith and trust. The title poem is named for the instruction manual of a microscope that the narrator’s father received as a child, and which in turn fueled a life’s work. Molberg engages in ekphrastic dialogue with works of art and science, but her strongest poems address intimacies. A matryoshka doll becomes a metaphor for small personal secrets, while an oyster occasions a meditation on grief: “If you look closely,/ there is a ring, mother-of-pearl, around the hole./ It’s the place closest to pain that shines.” Molberg explores absence to conceive of new possibilities. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/16/2017
Release date: 02/01/2017
Genre: Fiction
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