cover image Exceeds Us

Exceeds Us

Leah Poole Osowski. Saturnalia, $18 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-947817-54-8

Love, illness, and the natural world are central to the expansive world Osowski (hover over her) crafts in this ruminative outing. Appropriately, the book takes its title from a line in Rilke’s second Duino Elegy—“For our own heart always exceeds us”—capturing the scope of feeling Osowski mines in poems that use white space to create a visual rhythm and evoke the jaggedness of thought. The opening poem, “Temporally,” speaks to her interest in the ephemeral and mutable self: “I want to change enough times/ as to be hardly/ recognizable as mammal./ Sweet fin-legged future, with your salt skin and baleen teeth, beat me/ against the reef, force a different mode of breathing.” Aquariums, fish, and distorted views are motifs that appear elsewhere, as in the syntactically dynamic poem “Like a Gill Becomes a Scar,” which opens: “Amphibian means two lives/ they drink through their skin/ mouths closed I fill// John’s water glass past/ the top he lowers face/ sips the rise off the rim.” These memorable pages are full of richly imagined descriptions that stir and unsettle the reader. (Mar.)