cover image Midwood


Jana Prikryl. Norton, $26.95 (144p) ISBN 978-1-324-03521-3

Womanhood, motherhood, and trees are studied by the gimlet eye of Prikryl’s speaker in this powerful collection (after No Matter). Her keen observations are unsurpassed, interweaving corporeal details with otherworldly imagery, as in “Window Seat”: “musicians grouped on street corners/ playing electrified songs for almost no one/ the dream pressing in as bald as the moon.” The descriptions of trees are particularly strong, tuning into their physical appearance, their response to subtle changes in the air and seasons, and the inner worlds they might contain. A gust of wind, for instance, and “you feel/ for a moment the rustling in lindens, oaks, sycamores/ as they sense what’s been withheld/ for months, that’s when the mature ones/ rustle it off, slip almost/ sexily out of that dress.” Most moving are her reflections on fertility, as in “Alma Mater”: “I line up my stories, not having a child/ the worst thing that nearly happened to me/ and it happened for years, I couldn’t see the moon/ in the sky without shooting dirty looks but once arrived/ the boy the most arduous exacting work/ I couldn’t have done it alone.” These poems are short but deceptively impactful, disarming the reader with their candor and emotional depth. (Aug.)