cover image Looking for Luck: Poems

Looking for Luck: Poems

Maxine Kumin. W. W. Norton & Company, $17.95 (94pp) ISBN 978-0-393-03085-3

From a marketplace in Bangkok to the fields of New Hampshire, from recollections of her own childhood (``--I at age four with my darling nuns, / with Sister Elizabeth, Sister Ann, / am offered to Jesus, the Jewish child- / next-door'') to celebrations of an infant grandson, Kumin stakes her far-flung claims with authority in her 10th book of poetry. In singular voice, her vision alternately global and local, she is limited by neither time, location nor topic. Some poems are distinctly personal: ``A Brief History of Passion'' places her ``ardent parents'' alongside such famed lovers as Katherine Mansfield and John Middleton Murry, while in ``Telling the Barn Swallow'' she laments her cellist daughter's departure to another land where ``she will raise her children / in a language that rusts in my mouth / in a language that locks up my jaw.'' Flannery O'Connor and Anne Sexton (``my suicided long-term friend''), a brother uneasily reunited with a 91-year-old friend still passionate about horses--these prompt specific poems, many of which consider aging and mortality. Kumin ( House, Bridge, Fountain, Gap ) is at her best in poems about animals. Cows remembered from her youth, lambs raised to be slaughtered, a just-born foal with eyes ``as innocent, as skittery/as minnows'' inspire her clearest, most immediate response. (Feb.)