Lavinia Greenlaw's follow-up to her well-received debut, Night Photograph
, is a thought-provoking and memorable exploration of missed connections, disasters narrowly averted, and occasional glimpses of beauty. All of these themes converge in images, as when "dying wasps / make drunken passes at my hair. / They are drawn to glass, as air, / and cannot tell." The poems are driven by the gap between what can be known and what can be said, as in "Landscape," in which Greenlaw's haiku-influenced imagery wraps itself around an ineffable moment of shared experience: "Aroused by emptiness, / you push a hand inside my jeans. / The wind in the three-hundred-year-old / Lebanon cedars / makes a noise like nothing living."
From Kirkus Reviews
Greenlaws second book of short, intense poems (after Night Photograph) tends to drone in its anxious plaints, its dreary landscapes, and its airless language. Why? Does it have to be like that?, she wonders while contemplating cruel nature, and she elsewhere answers with the dilapidated perspectives'' of things in decay, and a host of uneventful events (Easter, New Years Eveand The Coast Road) for which We send no postcards, take no pictures. Admittedly modest, like her hero Luke Howard, the quiet 19th-century scientist (What We Can See of the Sky Has Fallen), the poet herself is a needy lover and lacks courage. Objects refuse to yield meaning, whether found in nature or a museum; and when things make her laugh, her jaw becomes unhinged. Only the sounds of the street break through the hermetic world of the poems: car alarms, construction workers, church bells, people shouting, gears crunching. Never whiny, Greenlaw yearns (in the title poem) for a time when words were faster, smaller, harder, which well describes her own taught measures. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.