A meditation in the face of impermanence, Inscriptions is a book about a family in crisis. Three strong women—a mother, an aunt, and a sister-in-law—serve as focus for the collection as these compressed lyric poems wrestle with illness and “death,/ tangy as copper” and the ways in which they reshape a family. Thomas seeks consolation in what endures, discovering a sense of what’s sacred in the ordinary.
“The Emperor of Oyster Bay,” from Inscriptions:
He rode to the hunt with trumpets and guns in November cold, his voice a drum, his loyal children dressed in green and gold. His words rang rifle shots, dogs cowering behind him, stars rotating as years passed— and blood wove itself into their cloth, mutated into shapes of horse and hound running under him on an icy path. Air froze as they breathed it, icicles in the lungs. They were pierced by that which melted and left no trace.