On “Flagstones” . . .
Here, the speaker recounts the seemingly simple task of setting flagstones in a yard, kneeling on the ground with a trowel in hand, sliding the trowel “under the sod that spreads like a shroud // across the face of each segmented slab of stone.” But this simple action becomes a complex meditation prayer, on our connection to the earth, and on the speaker’s own sense of self. “My knees sink into the grass,” the poet writes, “the heat of the afternoon shimmers / into the air the earth and I are spinning in space // and I am wondering who is kneeling here.” A stunning poem.
On “God as Reflexive Pronoun” . . .
I admire the high-wire act of this poem, the way one stanza perfectly mirrors the other, the way punctuation itself becomes vital in its playful manipulations by the poet. This is a clever poem, but that doesn’t mean it’s not also a serious meditation on the nature of God, on the location of multitudes within the a singular identity, the speaker “barely able to contain ourselves within myself,” who ultimately becomes a “vessel in the shining condensation.”
On “Revival at Diana Church of Christ . . .
This is such a rich, melodic poem, the speaker’s ability to create a sense of anxiety and place so self-assured and complete. A church revival on a hot day becomes the site of a complex meditation on a version of the divine and on fear, the two themes coming together until “before us, His white throne, / incandescent, like a molten law judging us, / until our prayers were singed in flame.” A wholly successful, if disconcerting, poem.