cover image Incident Light

Incident Light

H. L. Hix, . . Etruscan, $17.95 (73pp) ISBN 978-0-9745995-1-9

Hix's eighth collection is a fine addition to this protean poet's fast-growing (and critically lauded) body of work. The German-American artist Petra Soesemann, known for her abstract textiles, discovered in middle age that her father was not the man who raised her but rather a Turkish man she had never met. Hix knew Soesemann when both taught in Cleveland; he has now written a book of fragments from an imagined verse biography, riffing on incidents and themes from Soeseman's life, including her time spent in Peru. Eight-line pentameter units, most given interviewers' questions for titles (“Why did your mother tell you after all this time?”) dominate the volume, though some of its best moments (e.g., a scary recollection of a would-be killer on an airplane) occupy longer forms. Like C.D. Wright, Hix works both with highly wrought descriptive passages and with verse that sounds like regular speech cutting swiftly between them. In one poem, the Peruvian “coast, imprisoned between one/ vain desire and its equal opposite, drones/ desert dunes that mimic wave and peak alike.” In another, Soesemann recalls nearly drowning in childhood: “Mother leaves the beach then,/ comes running back with my father, who pauses/ to assess the situation,” then “swims out to save me.” (Nov.)