cover image The Golden Road

The Golden Road

Rachel Hadas. TriQuarterly, $16.95 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-0-8101-2859-0

Meaning depends on close observation in this book, which begins, “Once you see the pattern, it recurs:/ origin, journey, wound, and destination.” Hadas presents a poised journey through different kinds of loss, seeking not lamentation but discovery. Through poems closely married to form, even while breaking it, Hadas observes patterns (“As leaves fall, so it is with men”), questions patterns (“What is there to prepare for?”), and comes to terms as she moves toward and through what she accepts as inevitable: “There is no other way to move but onward./ Not that winter’s over yet; and not// that spring is imminent. But change is constant.” A husband’s slow decline and a friend’s suicide form the elegiac undercurrent of this work, where “The question isn’t whether/ he recognizes me but whether I/ recognize him. There isn’t any answer,” where even in the oblivion-grip of memory loss “each object’s still the entrance to a world/ of story and association,” and where all causeways that run through the book culminate in the elegant title poem that throws this “origin, journey, wound, and destination” into brilliantly sharp relief: “On a September road I met my son/ walking the other way,” it begins, “I had the hill/ to climb; he was returning from a run.” (Oct.)