cover image Stay Safe

Stay Safe

Emma Hine. Sarabande, $15.95 trade paper (72p) ISBN 978-1-946448-68-2

In this exuberant debut, Hine weaves a complex family narrative around the constant presence of a story-loving mother and three sisters, who have “always called each other/ by the radio alphabet signs for [their] initials:/ Echo, Sierra, and Juliett Hotel,/names to flare above bad weather.” Hine pilots the reader upward, through images of constellations and galaxies, and then downward, into black water beyond the reach of light, “past glowing jellyfish,/ past lanterneyes, past species, the girls said,/ that over eons had invented their own light.” Through the sisters’ stories, sea and sky come to feel interchangeable, since “Surely space is just another underwater.” The prose poem sequence “Echo Hotel” is a tour de force, tenderly and disturbingly spinning a family story of intergalactic travel: “This is it, folks, you say into the star-stitched quilt of deep space—the field of crumbling asteroids, the nebulas clustered like moths along the galaxy’s bright spine.” Throughout, Hine suggests the presence of hope, “To stay human you have to remember everything we have left.” This excellent work offers a prayer for the current calamitous moment. (Jan.)