A debut book of earthy, elegiac poetry.
In this work, Loftus draws on imagery from the natural environment to paint a picture of his speaker’s turbulent inner life and the calming hum of his surroundings. In three parts, he presents scenes in which the speaker faces not only nature, but history—be it his own or humanity’s—in instances of daily life: “At the bookstore / in the discard bin / among the sonnets, / it occurred to me: / I missed her.” Moments of vulnerability punctuate the poems, whether it’s a feeling that catches the speaker by surprise or when a sparrow tries relentlessly to survive: “I heaped seeds around / her clutching feet. Absurdly, / you might think”; “her prescient eye still / turned toward mine, / her silent mouth / singing to my bones.” However, Loftus is doing something other than merely pointing out the things that surround his speaker. By extracting the details that make up the big picture, the author comments on the interconnectedness of social and natural life. His poems evoke the greater romantic lyric, in which a landscape becomes the mind and the poem, a psycho-geographical description. Using maritime allusions, the author hints at the changing symbolic function of water as it relates to aging: “the natural wet / of water / it one day will press, / but glimmering wet, / adolescent, / a thing that knows no / lover yet.” Although poets have mined similar subject matter for centuries, Loftus gives it a brief update, with original line breaks, self-reflexive use of pronouns, and titles that launch his lines of inquiry from the highest peaks: “Every word he rhymed between / slippery purple carbon sheets / so not just he or I would see / but all would know his splendor.” Ultimately, the author offers readers a poetic climate that builds momentum until it finally reaches the present and understanding.
A compellingly emotional collection.