cover image Alba y Ocaso = Daybreak, Nightfall

Alba y Ocaso = Daybreak, Nightfall

Jorge Elias Lujan, Jorge Elias Lujan. Groundwood Books, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-88899-535-3

Two enigmatic but hypnotic poems by the Argentina-born author of In My Hand constitute the text of this intriguing, often disquieting work. In ""An Apple in the Orchard,"" a boy encounters a girl who ""opens her mouth like a bewildered moon."" Her hand ""slides down/ her face from side to side"" and ""erases her mouth."" In ""Pale-as-Bone"" a sinister-seeming Lady-as-Pale-as-a-Bone approaches the boy and girl as they ride the merry-go-round. Monroy, a Mexican artist, translates Luj n's elliptical imagery as a surreal sequence of scenes rendered in a deceptively childlike style. The results are dramatic, especially in the second poem, which becomes powerfully ominous. Lady-as-Pale-as-a-Bone resembles a cadaverous, ghostly moon and her streaming, night-blue hair is flecked with carrion crows. Like La Llorona, the weeping woman of Spanish folklore who wanders the streets looking for children to snatch, the lady frightens the two protagonists. She asks, ""Which of these shall I carry off first?"" Both poems wittily resolve the terror they evoke. In the first poem, the girl's ""mouth slowly reappears on her face,"" as if it were ""a moon returning/ from orbit around the apple""-or as if she were playing peek-a-boo (""Carahooria!""). In the second poem, the Lady takes neither boy nor girl but mounts a merry-go-round tin horse. Artistically complex, these tense poetic images may require considerable explication for younger audience members. Ages 8-up. (Apr.)