Each poem in this book is compressed and compact, yet deep and resonant. The lines seem almost cropped, so that the thin linear band of text bridges a chasm of empty white paper. Each word seems to be plucked from a world filled with wonder and placed carefully on the white page. The spare succinctness of Kay Ryan’s poems allow us to truly see and savor each word.
Many times the poems start in nature—with the peculiar particularity of a tree, an animal, a change in the weather—and they delve into rich surprises beneath in a few short lines. Other times the seed of the poem opens in the turn of a phrase or a cliché approached in a new way. Rhymes dot the poems with a freedom that follows no stringent pattern. The poet’s love for words is obvious, and language seems supple in her hands. Here’s just a taste:
Too much rain loosens trees. In the hills giant oaks fall upon their knees. You can touch parts you have no right to— places only birds should fly to.