Sun in Days

Norton. Sept. 2017. 96p. ISBN 9780393608755. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393608762. POETRY
Along with the collections Halflife and Once, O'Rourke has authored the highly regarded memoir The Long Goodbye, about coping with her mother's death, so it's hardly surprising that this new collection is delivered in forthright confessional style. Interestingly, the opening poem, "Self-Portrait as Myself," mourns something she never had—"the daughter I lost/ by not making her," which sets the tone for the poems of bittersweet remembrance and reflection to come. The long title poem captures the sense of time passing as it moves from a child's lazy days of summer to skaters on a Maine lake, with a mother in the background advising, "Stop worrying/ about the future, it doesn't/ belong to us and we don't belong to it." Instead, we get a sense of the steady drip-drip of events, of life "made of days and/ days, ordinary and subvocal." Throughout, O'Rourke is excellent at limning the hazy sense of loss that inevitably defines our moving forward and how we can therefore feel detached from ourselves, somehow fraudulent. "Used to know how to live," says a plaintive but tough poem, and O'Rourke gives us some guidance as she acknowledges "soon enough/ it'll be winter."
VERDICT Popular poetry for all readers.
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