cover image Hawk Parable

Hawk Parable

Tyler Mills. Univ. of Akron, $15.95 (99p) ISBN 978-1-62922-105-2

In his 1950 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Faulkner argued that under the sway of a “universal and physical fear,” writers had forgotten how to attend to “the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself.” In her second book, Mills (Tongue Lyre) proves that Faulkner underestimated a poet’s ability to manage enormous shifts of scale. Questions probe and pierce: “Can I call it light/ knowing what came?” Mills unlooses documentary evidence of bomb testing, deployment, and devastation that intersect with moments of acute self-reckoning: “So I kissed a goat on the mouth. I was warned./ I looked too fast into its eyes, both/ black stitches.” Haunted by the unverified possibility of her fighter-pilot grandfather’s “involvement in the Nagasaki mission,” Mills scans skies for contrails, scrutinizes negatives, reads survivors’ accounts, and sifts through white sands: “I swallow vomit after watching// the island wart into an orange bulb,” but “Gone is the oyster-/ white rocket. You can’t/ take it back.” The poet asks: “Did the garble/ protect this body from history?” Her answer: “The land buries the thing we made to live/ just beyond the imagination.” Here, Mills has written a book for the long nuclear century. (Apr.)