Wichert, a transplanted German Pole, now lives and teaches in Belfast, an equally divided and embattled site of identity. Ironically, despite those obvious markers, her work says very little about such divisions. Rather, in this collection, she seems most concerned about the weather. Weather figures in almost every poem, with lowering clouds constantly threatening to engulf Wichert. The other central metaphors are ones that will be familiar to students of such post-1960s German artists as filmmaker Wim Wenders: American painting and pop music. For Wichert, painting functions as a metaphor for the act of making sense out of a seemingly indifferent (when not downright hostile) natural world. And, like Wenders, she travels to America in search of something, although it is never clear what. Perhaps she is looking for “freedom,” given the platitudinous and easy political ironies that thread through much of this book. There are echoes of Stevens in her abstract moments (although not, interestingly, in the poem “The Green Piano”), and Hans Magnus Enszenburger is an obvious echo as well. The entire collection has an earnest but studied tone, the emotions learned by rote, second-hand and artificial—not passions but a series of mediocre counterfeits.
One word says it best: ephemeral.