cover image Five Fifty-Five

Five Fifty-Five

Maura Dooley. Bloodaxe, $16.95 trade paper (64p) ISBN 978-1-78037-657-8

Sonically elegant and rich with memorable descriptions and images, the latest from Dooley (after The Silvering) explores the past, mortality, and the silences and omissions that invite deeper reflection on the page. Poems such as the gorgeous “A Ruined Castle in Wales” astonish with their vision: “clouds cloak the walls/ in rain,” and a gift shop described as holding “dragons, blankets, ice cream.” A stanza break separates the poem’s descriptive mode from its impactful emotional insight: “Those times will come again./ When will those times come again?/ These times will never come again.” Similarly, “A Bunch of Consolations” begins, “You think they’ll always be there,/ (the ones who always have been),” ending on a poignant question: “What have you learned exactly?/ To love, to speak up, to hold steady./ Hold steady.” In “L’Heure Bleue,” which features an epigraph by Jean Rhys, she writes, “Not Paris, here the hour between dog and wolf/ is bitter blue, a wind that silks about the neck/ and tightens.” Several of these entries feature delightful allusions to such literary details as Jane Austen’s rosebud and Dante and Virgil in Ravenna, widening the world of these poems and placing them in conversation with the larger universe of writing. Commanding and quietly layered, these lyrically precise and subtle poems deserve revisiting. (Apr.)