Debora Greger grew up not far from the Hanford atomic plant in eastern Washington, where her father worked. In this arid landscape, she writes, "even the dust, though we didn't know it then, was radioactive." Much of this collection, her fifth, revolves around that landscape and its impact on her childhood. As always, Greger's verse is polished, playful, and highly allusive. And in "Nights of 1995," she pays tribute to the late James Merrill
in a manner that does that verbal magician proud: "Profligate with loss, / the live oak wept the old leaves down; / one pine needle stitched the air / a shroud to enfold one last song."
From Publishers Weekly
In her fifth collection of verse, Greger (Movable Islands) brings clarity and a deft allusive touch to themes of innocence and faith, love and death. These poems are animated by the spirit of Washington State's Hanford nuclear plant, where the plutonium used in the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki was manufactured. Greger grew up near Hanford, a town ignorant of the nearby toxic danger even while its fathers went to work at the plant. Greger displays a bracing combination of nostalgia and deadpan wit in her evocation of a childhood filled with Catholic school ideals and Cold War fears. "Someone's father left Mass early/ for the first shift at the reactor./ Who needed intercession by the mother of God?/ The angel Plutonium would keep us safe." Greger's imagery runs often to light, dust and weeds in the company of Catholic motifs such as angels and saints, repeated in formal measures of iambic pentameter and the occasional sonnet. The glow of youth and innocence against a backdrop of mortality-"the world trimmed in white/ on its way to death"-hovers delicately over these poems.
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