Wesleyan Univ. Aug. 2022. 96p. ISBN 9780819500076. $25; pap. ISBN 9780819500083. $15.95. POETRY
Following The Trailhead, an LJ Best Poetry Book, Webster’s latest springs from her grief at the loss of three women—her mother, a mentor, and a friend—and readers immediately sense her anguish at the inadequacy of words to convey what she is feeling. Yet she forges ahead in language as sharp and shimmering as lapis lazuli, sometimes delivering plainspoken aperçus (“There are things I need to know”); more often striking, studied language (“Your ravaged arms, your garnet light, your when, not if: poison, mistranslated as honey). Even as she plumbs the unsung legacy of her Mormon foremothers, she wrestles with a renewed and different spirituality (“Were you there when they crucified my lord and I say No, but I’ve seen his body since in the dog spoon-fed antifreeze and, of course, in you all at the end of your days”), and she sees how she has been transfigured—sometimes dangerously—by sorrow (“I made of my sadness a lanyard/ I made of my sadness a tomb). What results is powerful and perceptive, though somehow disjointed, as if language sometimes got in the way and Webster hadn’t fully located her grief. At book’s end, she’s still seeking that seer stone to connect her with the dead.
VERDICT Despite its challenges, a book to be appreciated by poetry sophisticates.
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