cover image Sight Return

Sight Return

Rebecca Wolff. Wave, $18 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-950268-65-8

With a style that is, in Wolff’s own words, “egregious coinage minted in a prideful cataract,” the poet’s spirited fifth collection (after One Morning), which borrows its title from a Jimi Hendrix song, sets the tone from the outset: “Dehydrated box/ of box turtle deserving your censure. ‘Me minus you’ is// a terrapin homestead,/ sales encrypted,/ sales diamondback sails// sales—sails—is that what you were trying to tell me, ‘sails’?” (“The character of something”). Wolff’s mind slithers from sales to sails, snagging on the twigs and rocks of self-criticism, scorn, anger, and post-marital rage: “—these marriages, they look to me like knots/ to be untied.” There are snippets of gossip about the “rural bourgeois” circle she inhabits, while she takes comfort from the cat she loves “the way I should love you.” “I hate this sort of poem,” aimed at the one she is writing, couples self-scrutiny with self-alienation. Some of the most poignant insights in the collection emerge from a combative and bitter divorce yielding to a “slight return”: “I have been given the opportunity to begin again/ to start over, moving forwards/ bereft.” In the end, it’s all material: “I am loser hear me roar,” she riffs. This ruminative and startling collection offers an incisive portrait of modern life. (Sept.)