cover image Connecting the Dots: Poems

Connecting the Dots: Poems

Maxine Kumin. W. W. Norton & Company, $18.95 (86pp) ISBN 978-0-393-03962-7

The process referred to in the title--and final--poem of Kumin's 11th collection is the ability to take care of one's business, personal and metaphysical. Here, the poet is aware that her grown children, on their visits home, gently assess her ability in this regard. Kumin is indeed still taking care of the same business that has absorbed her throughout her career: noting the connections among family members; tracking the relations among people, animals and the natural world; and observing the moral responsibility of daily life. Her customary candor and irony are still present, as in her recollection of her youthful religious imagination and the demands her faith might make on her: ""I didn't know how little risk I ran/ of being asked to set my people free... I didn't know the patriarchy that spared me/ fame had named me chattell, handmaiden."" Although some poems are less substantive than others (""Vignette"" is little more than its title suggests), others are memorably strong, particularly the poems about her mother and a number of vivid elegies. In ""New Year's Eve 1959,"" Jack Geiger is recalled dancing with Anne Sexton, ""...pecking his head to the beat/ swinging her out on the stalk of his arm/ setting all eight gores of her skirt/ twirling."" In ""After the Cleansing of Bosnia,"" Kumin constructs startling and sophisticated images that connect her expatriate daughter as a child and as an adult, the continuing cycle of world sorrow and the mysterious beauty of her rural life. (July)