Last Train to the Missing Planet

Univ. of Iowa. 2016. 144p. ISBN 9781597093538. $17.95. POETRY
In her third collection (after Slice of Moon), Dower invests the most ordinary moments with a significance that doesn't feel strained. "Dawn cracks me open like a clam," she proclaims in "Another Morning. "Am I alone/ pretending it's you pushing me// out of sleep, or us together, a team half waking." And when the situation turns serious, she doesn't become grim but reveals the passion that underpins many of her poems: "From our kisses, obliterate it with desire," she says of the end of the world, "…locked in an emergency embrace." A poem on natural disasters concedes that "life changing decisions will be made" yet ends, "it's only a cleansing for the paradise that can lie ahead," and many of the poems resonate with that same determined energy. Dower paints scenes nicely ("Santa Ana winds lifting bones from the earth"), and even an encounter with a raccoon on a Los Angeles byway is invested with magic, as the speaker imagines the creature a cursed prince or princess looking for someone to break the spell.
VERDICT Throughout, Dower maintains a fine level of craft and reverberant feeling. A satisfying collection for most readers.
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