cover image An Ethic

An Ethic

Christina Davis. Nightboat Books (SPD, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (66p) ISBN 978-1-937658-09-0

Despite its minimalist aesthetic, Davis’s second collection is anything but coy; the poems are slim and brief, but not light. The collection, which begins its considerations of grief and absence with a father’s death and widens outward, is inaugurated with a single conviction: “There is no this or that world.” What follows is a rigorous meditation on this premise, a refusal of the notion that one passes from presence into absence, from life into death, as if by bridge or tunnel. Rather, presence and absence, life and death, coexist—and we are daily challenged to reconcile their simultaneity. Perhaps this is an idea that is best taken small bites, as not to overwhelm; the poem “Addendum” is simply: “Who was it said: ‘AND/ is the greatest/ miracle’? Praise// be his/her name.” And yet, the poems overwhelm, overflow with syntactic attempts to embody the slipperiness of coming to terms with the paradoxical mass of an absent thing, the weight of the hole. These poems are as conspicuously minimal as they are unsuspectingly heavy, and it is by achieving both of these effects at once that they prove that we and our grief are blessed to occupy the same space.