“After great pain,” Emily Dickinson wrote, “a formal feeling comes—.” The speaker of the poems in Round Lake knows the feeling and the form: she has lost her entire family, and must recover her own voice after the silence of grief. Parts of this book are set in Greece, connecting personal tragedy with images of stark, beautiful ruins. The short, truncated lines fuse the landscape with the speaker’s breath: “Words scale / and fall in a / similar way, / like hands letting // one field lie / fallow to favor / another.” These poems carry simultaneously the weight of myth and of the all-too-real world.
“Stopping on Delos,” from Round Lake:
I climb a hill to the temple of Isis. Her missing face looks out to sea. All her dreams are nautical. Poppies enfold her granite pedestal. A bump, a burr, a barnacle, flecked with red paint, clings to her waist. Stub-thumb of an ancient child. Pagan mother, take my hand—tiny, unsculpted, living.