All You Do Is Perceive
The Latin root of perceive means “to seize entirely,” and that’s exactly what these poems do. Here there is “no door / just the edge of an infinite pour” into motherhood, cities old and new, and the histories that comprise us. The centerpiece of the book is a series of poems revolving around a new mother, a mix of peril and ecstasy that suffuses the entire book, whether the speaker is beholding her adopted baby, a President finishing supper before declaring war, or an ambulance that “dazzles like a cocktail ring.”
“All You Do Is Perceive”:
I was given a city, with coffee and sunlight. "The coin-purse smell of the subway," I wrote. In the mornings policemen would stand, lightstruck and pleasured, over trays of danish. Mornings I wrote and workmen raised up their nets. Hallelujah the brick, the debris! I was given a city! The city got between me and God. I was given a house. The curtains breathed over wide sills. There was a leaf in the middle of the floor, I loved the crispness of the leaf. I loved the privacy of sills. The sills sailed, I fell into the sills. The sills got between me and God. I was given a mud hut. The walls curved to meet the ceiling like a tongue curves to make a word. I was given God, with salt and sweet together. I was given a piece of meat. I loved the flesh. I was given bread only. I was given only water. I loved the coolness of the water. The water got between me and the feast. I had an empty plate and there was the color of it. I cannot even describe the color of it. I was given a cell with a window. There was a certain light at evening. I was given nothing but air, and the air dazzled.