The Black Bear Inside Me

Univ. of Pittsburgh. Feb. 2018. 72p. ISBN 9780822965244. pap. $15.95. POETRY
This graceful collection from Lambda Literary Award winner Becker (All-American Girl) uses accessible language to larger purpose. The first section illuminates only seemingly everyday moments, from a baby's first "undulating hands" to a dog with "the wisdom of one well-loved/ from birth" to cede his bowl to a rescue. The second section goes personal ("I didn't know a polonaise from an east coast swing"), while the third steps out to investigate the world at large ("How to account for the lacerated hands/ Of the enslaved, 15-year-old Cambodian deckhands"). Elegies abound ("after her death/ she hovered, a bird of bones and air"), creating not gloom but calm, though the title's black bear lunges out to remind humans that "the land// that supports us// supports them."
VERDICT A wise, accomplished book for most readers.

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