cover image So Long

So Long

Jen Levitt. Four Way, $17.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-954245-50-1

The elegiac and powerful second collection from Levitt (The Off-Season) is a masterwork of quiet examination, looking closely at tender and difficult moments: “shrinking life to a thumb, stone on a beach,/ mollusk, molecule, wringing the life from my life.” Levitt explores her own flaws with a transparent, crisp language that balances longing with her own sense of awe towards the natural world and the intimate scenes of her home: “A father double-knots his daughter’s laces on the crosstown bus, I eat an apple I picked myself with a balanced ratio of sweet to tart.” The core of the collection focuses on Levitt’s relationship with her father as he struggles with and ultimately succumbs to cancer: “Soon, we’ll have to find another way to meet, as moonlight/ makes the river glow, & look at how lucky I’ve been, for so long.” Levitt captures the bewildering dichotomy between the mundane and the precious as she chronicles her father’s life, moving from memory to watching “an hour of bad TV in the hospital room” before taking a cab home, considering, “in that non-place what does time sound like.” Levitt anticipates loss before it occurs, and this heightens how she moves through the world. The fierce honesty here inspires the reader to consider the world’s temporality and treasure its moments. (Mar.)