The finely-sculpted poems of The Currency animate the world of art and architecture, from Caravaggio and Frank Gehry to the contemporary artist Maurizio Cattelan and the filmmaker Jean-Pierre Limosin. Exploring such works of art for how they lead us to pause for thought and breath, for how they infuse mind and body in equal measure, helping us keep and pass the time we spend, Otremba poignantly articulates the hues of familial life. One ghazal traces colors, Rothkolike, through a boy’s life; another poem traces the speaker’s fascination with doctors to a childhood encounter with his physician father. Art and life intermix seamlessly and you, like the book’s speaker, will feel “I almost heard them move, / the figures beneath the photographs’ gloss.”
I saw it once, the place full of steam,
from behind the taxi’s streaked window.
But in the park we were vulnerable,
exposed for the sky’s opening. Running,
a small space opened near the small
of her back. Some nights I would
wake there. Then in dreams, her tongue
reflected with scales like the sides
more important—rains. Still, what leaves?
What conservation of mettle? More dreams
proceeded, but the order came out wrong.
It was a vastness, the glass against the sky,
another couple up for anything,
or so it seemed from the railing.
On the sides of the glass fish swam
scrutiny, an abundance of fern.
And still others came by and said, Oh,
not that red, that red.