cover image Whale Fall

Whale Fall

David Baker. Norton, $26.95 (112p) ISBN 978-1-324-02063-9

A virtuoso of eco-poetry and acoustics, Baker (Swift) meditates on the nonpareil majesty of the planet with rigorous consideration and reverence. He considers what molds and anchors the soul—emptiness, solitude, sound, love, and mortality, perceiving the intrinsic life of the physical world and complementing this thinking with impressive knowledge of flora and fauna. With death on his mind, he recognizes the impulse to evade its approach (“We live in one time but think in another”) but focuses on the splendor of the present (“in the small brain/ of extinct summers let us be like beaks/ among dark berries along ancient boughs/ even now the clocks in their feather gloves/ are measuring space for the new graveyards”). Dually affirming and humbling, Baker redefines legacy: “When you are gone they will read your footprints...// all that’s left of this life is what remains/ for the next.” Baker’s careful, captivating writing sinks under the skin, summoning a long-forgotten need for stillness, wonder, and attention to the sacrosanctity of the world. (July)