cover image What Is Not Missing Is Light

What Is Not Missing Is Light

Bridgette Bates. Rescue (SPD, dist.), $16 trade paper (84p) ISBN 978-0-9885873-7-3

Bates, in a debut collection of untitled prose poems, meditates on statutes, Greek mythology, museums, the oceans, motherhood, and femininity. She begins by examining her primary subject, "a statue, an inescapable she," and threads together her diverse array of subjects with a singular and piercing focus. Bates is transfixed by the role of museums; the statues and the experience of being in the museum space work as a stepping-stone for self-discovery: "A cemetery/ a sea/ a museum// Places where the body floats free in a buried form." The poems are reflective and inward-looking; she writes, for instance, "We are all survivors of ruin. And isn't ruin beautiful because it has survived?" Often, however, this intimate excavation of self adopts a distant, detached, and clinical tone. So while the poet can feel far from her work, the poems' authoritative coolness perfectly reflect the quiet museum-going experience; each poem in the collection gleams like marble statuary. Bates's writing is taut and elegant, without superfluous ornamentations. But she is also a witty writer concerned with the genealogy of language and its implications, proclaiming, "If the plural of marble, marbles, is slang for sanity, then what does it mean to get lost in a room of marble statues?" Bates's thoughtful poems offer a new means of exploring art and origins. (Nov.)