cover image Lapis


Kerri Webster. Wesleyan Univ., $15.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-0-8195-0007-6

An epigraph from Oscar Wilde, "Where there is sorrow there is holy ground," is one of several that opens the introspective and conversational latest from Webster (The Trailhead). Investigating death, including that of her mother, a mentor, and a friend, these poems circle grief in four sections of prose, list, and long lyric poems that make intriguing use of white space. In "Elegy," Webster writes, "And I was equal to my longing:/ the mums blackening;/ sorrow a carboned figurine;/ the firmament steaming; your ashes/ interred in the boulder;/ the ugly birds crying dolor dolor dolor." In "Primrose, Orchid, Datura," she declares "-blossoms collected in jars,/ granite thieved from silt. I napped and architected/ a decadent inwardness." This entry, which displays Webster's gift for moving and surprising imagery, ends: "Once I was a girl/ who wore feathers and ivory, a woman who let/ the tap run in the desert past all decency. Forgive me." In "Against Shame," she writes, "For the scroll of lamentations, no remedy. Your ravaged arms, your garnet light, your when, not if: poison mistranslated as honey." Webster's expert use of form and evocative vision make this affecting and memorable. (Aug.)