cover image Lent: Poems

Lent: Poems

Kate Cayley. Book*hug, $18 trade paper (86p) ISBN 978-1-77166-811-8

The title of the faith-inflected latest from Cayley (Other Houses) suggests the collection’s interest in religion, though it is just as fascinated by fathoming the philosophical dimensions and implication of domestic and artistic life. The opening poem, “Attention,” sets the stakes for this attention: “And if repetition could itself be/ a form of attention, folding along the crease/ until the crease finds itself/ hollowing out the groove, as in marriage,/ studying the same face, the same/ permeable body.” In the next piece, Cayley powerfully describes ice “thinned/ to skin” and “The frozen puddle vast/ as the ice over the earth,/ which once, perhaps,/ we all crossed” (“Ice Sheet”). Other poems feature prosaic declarations: “Childhood is a time of inexplicable passions. The genius or religious fanatic is tepid compared to the disastrous loves experienced by children,” and “As Henry James wrote, an artist is one on whom nothing is lost.... This seems optimistic: it is also true of sustained personal or political cruelty.” Full of delightful allusions to Sylvia Plath and others, these intelligent poems offer evocative and rewarding ruminations. (Apr.)