Greenlaw's second book of short, intense poems (after Night Photograph) tends to drone in its anxious plaints, its dreary landscapes, and its airless language. ""Why? Does it have to be like that?,"" she wonders while contemplating creel nature, and she elsewhere answers with the ""dilapidated perspectives"" of things in decay, and a host of uneventful events (""Easter,"" ""New Year's Eve""and ""The Coast Road"") for which ""We send no postcards, take no pictures."" Admittedly modest, like her hero Luke Howard, the quiet 19th-century scientist (""What We Can See of the Sky Has Fallen""), the poet herself is a needy lover and lacks courage. Objects refuse to yield meaning, whether found in nature or a museum; and when things make her laugh, her jaw becomes unhinged. Only the sounds of the street break through the hermetic world of the poems: car alarms, construction workers, church bells, people shouting, gears crunching. Never whiny, Greenlaw yearns (in the title poem) for a time when words were ""faster, smaller, harder,"" which well describes her own taught measures.