A poetry collection explores life’s delicate equation.
Divided into three sections, Myers’ (Between Dream and Flesh, 2018, etc.) latest volume is both cataclysmic and comforting, offering free verse poems that take a long look at time and the universe alongside the mise-en-scène of daily life. The first section, “Space,” opens with a part-whimsical, part-ominous late-night conversation the speaker has with the forces of an inanimate bedroom. “So, sleep, dream, as you know / the meeting is never over. Enter / the dark with us, animal,” it ends, shifting the tone seamlessly in a way that seems emblematic of the author’s brief poems that plumb the depths of the collective unconscious. Frequently, quotidian tasks give way to metaphysical musings, as in “Dirge for Wanderers,” about a trip to the market, or “Morning Rush,” about commuting to work. The middle section, entitled “Time,” looks at the fourth dimension in terms of the eternity of earthliness and the fluctuations in interpersonal relationships, as in poems like “Yahrzeit” and “Seasonal.” Among Myers’ strongest pieces in that section are poems about the passage of time and loved ones. In “After Parking at Starbucks,” the speaker describes going for coffee with an aging parent. The author writes: “Something fine / and brittle might break as I lift it / away from its place, like that china / cup I fumbled,” drawing a line from the frailty of the speaker’s mother to her inherited china set. Details like these can be read with a bit of relief. But the focus on the speaker’s self and its interconnectedness with the rest of life can, at times, render other characters decorative and one-dimensional, as happens to the young woman a writer meets in “After the Master Class,” who is invited up to a hotel room. The final section, “Union,” is a bittersweet ode to what’s come before, prefaced by a quote from mathematician Hermann Minkowski that warns that “space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows.” Poems like “I’ll See Her Turning” and “Catch” examine the banalities of life and death and are especially effective for their humanity. In over 40 poems, Myers manages to be both brief and expansive.
Ambitious poems that deftly tackle big ideas.