cover image Elephant Rocks: Poems

Elephant Rocks: Poems

Kay Ryan / Author Grove Press $18 (84p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1586-7

Ryan's third book of poems, following Flamingo Watching (1994), is a meditation on a quirky, quixotic natural world full of animal-shaped rocks and other oddities (""There could be an island paradise/ where crustaceans prevail""). In a style characterized by formal elegance and extreme economy of language (""As some people age,/ they kinden""), Ryan's work is a unique blend of careful observation of the external world of sensation and a faithful documentation of the inner world of thought. Her work recalls Dickinson's in substance as in directness: ""We know it is close/ to something lofty./ Simply getting over being sick/ or finding lost property."" Although at times her terse, rhyming verses have the patness of nursery rhymes (""A thought is dumb,/ without eyes, ears,/ opposable thumb,/ or a tongue''), her best poems are resonant and memorable precisely because they are so compressed and because the images they contain are so insightfully and provocatively given: ""The grains shall be collected/ from the thousand shores/ to which they found their way,/ and the boulder restored."" (May)