cover image Body Clock

Body Clock

Eleni Sikelianos, . . Coffee House, $18 (149pp) ISBN 978-1-56689-219-3

In her characteristic fragmented lyric, Sikelianos finds words for a range of thought and emotion called up by new motherhood post-9/11. Separated into nine sections, her fifth book is concerned with time and its effect on the body: “The body was an eyelash skittering/ across the hours, bumping over midnight/ & sleep a grainy ghost.” Ruminating on triumphs and tragedies both public and private, Sikelianos gives equal voice to joy, anger and boredom. Like fellow poets Catherine Wagner and Rachel Zucker, Sikelianos casts an unflinching gaze on not just the wonder but also the terror of bringing a new life into the world. While that means occasional diversions into indulgently hermetic or obscure territory—bewildering runs like “to settle in dark mantle deposits, the moon's maria/ to land in the Lake of Excellence” can confound—the awed tone gives rise to some of Sikelianos's best work to date, and a fine, aesthetically challenging treatment of an age-old subject. (Oct.)