cover image Childcare


Rob Schlegel. Four Way, $17.95 trade paper (76p) ISBN 978-1-954245-56-3

“I have no place to put everything/ my children make me feel,” Schlegel announces in his ruminative fourth collection (after In the Tree Where the Double Sex Sleeps). Yet he captures as much as he can with quiet, urgent desperation that gives these poems a flickering liveliness. Writing amidst the chaos of working, child-rearing, and house-sitting, Schlegel is haunted by “the lowercase tragedy/ life is,” blending dreamscapes with the day-to-day. He anticipates future disaster while attempting to absorb a current one: “I stress-eat chips in the kitchen/ Listening to Audie Cornish/ Narrate Kavanaugh, which is totally abstract/ Till my son asks me about it.” Later, as if to remind himself, he lifts a line from Clarice Lispector: “Here I should record a joy.” “Creeping Thyme” sprawls with moments of deep, strange tenderness made fierce by temporality. In one section of the poem, he imagines near-tragedies—a breech baby, a child drowning—remarking instead, “my children are merely sleeping/ And I can’t separate their beauty/ From the future violence they will commit,/ Nor from the violence to be committed against them.” These skillful poems are full of affective feeling and thinking. (Mar.)