Louise Gluck aims at the diaphragm. Each terse lyric captures the swift intake of breath that accompanies withdrawal in the anticipation of pain and death. More than her highly praised first book, First Born (1968), this is a collection of love poems, about a mysterious, dangerous sort of love, entangled in death and night. ""Gretel in Darkness"" reminds Hansel of their shared guilt -- ""Am I alone? Spies/ hiss in the stillness, Hansel,/ we are there still and it is real, real,/ that black forest and the fire in earnest"" -- but the later poems agree to baldly and succinctly ""select death. O yes I can/ believe that of my body,"" advocating ""the proper pain. The lights are out. Love/ forms in the human body."" Gluck's close identification with nature makes this emotion bearable; like the withering flower that announces, ""It is spring! We are going to die!"" So children will soon defect, and in a poem to the child Gluck calls ""your son"" she declares, ""I wait to see how he will leave me."" She probes all these wounds of love without self-pity. Her poetry affirms commitment and intensity, though there is no hope for involvement without hurt. She counsels generosity, and, when that fails, courage, as ""the heart/ expands to admit its adversary.