cover image The Nick of Time

The Nick of Time

Rosemarie Waldrop. New Directions, $16.95 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-0-8112-3053-7

In her first new collection in a decade, Waldrop (Driven to Abstraction) astonishes with poems that explore uncertainty and grief, and reckon with time, language, and memory. As her husband%E2%80%99s memory begins to fail, Waldrop turns to the intangible and abstract: "A sentence with the word %E2%80%98time%E2%80%99 in it already contains a shadow. Of the/ soul leaving the body." A German-born poet and translator of multiple languages, Waldrop is interested in the things that can%E2%80%99t be conveyed: "I search the cracks between my English and German for more words/ than either has." In the long poem "cut with the kitchen knife," Waldrop beautifully examines the life and times of German dadaist Hannah H%C3%B6ch with traces of wry humor: "Always, in the real world,/ the brute fact. Hunger, misery, the chill of winter. The sound of boots/ marching... There is dispute if creative/ ferment will lead to religion, the internal combustion engine, or/ National Socialism. But our object of veneration is now orgasm." These intellectual poems are suffused with intimacy, as Waldrop invites the reader to accompany her on a contemplative trek through the mysteries of the universe. It%E2%80%99s a trip well worth taking. (Sept.)