A debut poetry collection, written over a period of 10 years, that has a startling emotional intensity.
A brief introduction notes that this book contains works from de Iuliis’ youth and adulthood, but it doesn’t indicate whether they’re arranged chronologically. The stronger first part ranges into dark corners of imagination; the second, however, turns on overly familiar tropes of romantic love and loss. The poet is at her best when she reaches for elemental, emotional resonances. As sea, sky, and rock frame a limitless but tender human heart in “The elements,” the line “Kiss me like the last kiss” feels cosmic. (Compare this with the blunt, prosaic language of later poems, such as “You took my heart and tore it apart” or “I cared for you, why did I waste my time?”) Powerful sounds provide the structures for several poems; “Buried,” for example, draws on sonic force for its defiant attitude: “Shatter the glass and forget the past, / Carry myself as it breaks. / Pick up my smash and count all my cash, / Carry my heart as it eats.” Although the juxtaposition of “breaks” and ”eats” ranges far off the rhyme scheme for American readers, the poet’s Scottish heritage gives it an intriguing dimension. A few poems tell stories but many ask questions, such as “What is it to get away?” or “What is it to find another life?” Titles such as “Bruises fade” or “A broken home” suggest that another life might be desirable, as does the collection’s emphasis on unsettling states of mind: “This darkness sits beside me, I can hear it breathing / Sitting on the church floor…// This haunting comes closer within me.” The opening poem, “Angels Crying,” conflates colors, pain, and intuitions: “These thoughts I have / Angels crying all around us.” It’s hard to tell if the thoughts are dark angels, or if the persistence of dark thoughts makes angels cry. Either way, readers will suspect that these are the same thoughts that appear in “These Thoughts,” which “choke around my throat.”
An uneven poetic performance, but one done with impressive conviction.