cover image Drought-Adapted Vine

Drought-Adapted Vine

Donald Revell. Alice James (Consortium, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (100p) ISBN 978-1-938584-13-8

Ecstatic and eminent, reverent and much-revered, Revell (Essay: A Critical Memoir) continues his rapturous and challenging attention to the presence of divinity in nature, and to the reminders of death in daily life. In his visions, he takes opposites—such as grief and worship, or transcendence and emptiness—and turns them into complements: “The day is mountains, too many mountains,” yet “flowers are never out of place,/ Never wrong.” Revell’s unrhymed sonnets, his paradoxical verse prayers, and his central sequence (which has no standard form) also amount to an elegy for his mother, whose funeral recurs among his images of flowering trees, “forsythia/ Starry for hopeful, root and branch.” The poet, editor, and translator now looks hardest and longest at places and things from back East, from his childhood: “Steeple that buried my parents/ Under the hill was a staircase too.” Like one of his conscious influences, Henry David Thoreau, Revell demonstrates his spontaneity and his unmediated, often delighted, relationship to nature even while he teaches us, unshowily, about who and what he has read. Yet the stars in this volume are not the older writers he quotes or references, but the boldly sketched scenes, animals, trees, and buildings; each is a momentary conjunction of faith with language, addressed with a pellucid power that invites even unprepared readers to join in. [em](Sept.) [/em]