cover image Work & Days

Work & Days

Tess Taylor. Red Hen (Univ. of Chicago, dist.), $11.95 trade paper (72p) ISBN 978-1-59709-732-1

In this modern Georgic, Taylor (The Forage House), winner of the 2010 Amy Clampitt Fellowship, contemplates the invisible threads that tie the individual body to the numerous bodies scattered across the planet. Taylor's fellowship, which entailed a stay in the Berkshires, led her to farm work that inspired reflections both personal and global. Having submitted to the physical demands of intensive labor, a sort of third eye opened through being close to the soil. Taylor's opening poem, "Peck Small Tracks," acts as the vein leading directly to the collection's heart. "The page waits," she writes. "Again you try// to print a common thing: how this one day/ slipped by%E2%80%94at dawn shadows bloomed." Such stark, no-frills language emphasizes the pressure of creation and the notion that such a burden is accompanied by an expiration date. In fact, despite the many wonders of her temporary lifestyle, Taylor is quick to remind readers that beauty is quickly followed by its destruction. Yet as time passes, Taylor becomes more at ease with nature's cycles, even finding joy in the temporary. Taylor's engagement with the poetry of agriculture reveals a deep sense of humility and a newfound gratitude for life itself. (Apr.)