cover image A Dangerous Place

A Dangerous Place

Chelsea B. DesAutels. Sarabande, $15.95 Trade Paper (72p) ISBN 978-1-946448-86-6

In her lush and transformative debut, DesAutels teases out pain and joy, building them into poems that are “tender and green, reaching/ charged, humming.” When the author’s daughter was six months old, DesAutels tested positive for a second pregnancy, which was later identified as cancer: “the test a false positive, the blood/ unrelated, the swelling in my belly something/ else.” DesAutels’s poems draw their visceral power from the tension between the body capable of bringing new life into the world and the body in threat. She voices this duality with sophistication and heartbreaking elegance: “Buffalo my pumping heart. Tongue: rainbow trout in a low-running stream./ Memory an antelope in a crown of wildflowers, thrashing.” The collection moves in a loose chronological order, shifting from poems about new motherhood to poems about survival. Throughout, she offers remarkable insights: “You’d think almost dying would make every moment count. It doesn’t.” Using the natural world as her foundation, DesAutels writes about illness and motherhood in a collection that is arresting, fiercely tender, and teeming with life. (Oct.)