publication date: 2012/05/15
trim: 9 x 6
price (paper): $14.95
ISBN 13 (paper): 978-1-936747-28-3
If the wind had been less gutsy
in its unbindings, we’d know them better,
or the afterimage of them,
the teenage couple rapt inside the field
after the rave has died
and dispersed into corn, into cars, into
the trashed curfew.
We’d know them, the two who lay here,
ecstasy lowered to ache
and dull grin, glow sticks faded against
If the wind had been less federal,
sweeping anew the corn dust, and the clouds
that kept them starry for hours,
now passive against the noon sky:
if only they’d lasted.
If we’d been given more distinct evidence
beyond the condom listing against milkweed,
the fox prints, the warmth
of glow sticks in our hands—
neutral again, broken of their magic.
Those dirty pacifiers we suck. Their whistles
we put to mouth and sound.
Like Elizabeth Bishop before her, Paula Bohince is a visionary poet of the subtlest kind. “Any / place lacking emotion is called natural,” she suggests, and her poems, like Bishop’s, seem most natural when they are in fact most fantastic, most deeply felt. The acuity of Bohince’s observations is not only matched but fueled by imaginative fervor, and, as a result, nothing in these quietly uncanny poems is merely natural. They are as ravaged as they are composed. They are ravaged because they are composed. The Children is a beautiful, challenging book.
Another writer with Paula Bohince's gift for the ravishing image—and such writers are very few—would have us on our guard. We are wary of beauty; we have seen too often what beauty leaves out. But Bohince, in her magical capture of the material world, scorns all euphemizing edits; “the condom listing against milk-/weed” is registered as scrupulously in these pages as are the combs of the abandoned hive. Which makes these poems transformative in the true and difficult sense: they bestow on the world the blessing of having-been-seen. And beauty too: “Something to recall / as beautiful, in the future. As the sewer was / in summer. Little childhood river.”
The lines in Paula Bohince’s collection of poems sound out the rich ambivalence in the poet’s vision, where the homeless owl can be “moonstruck” and the natural world feigns innocence. The book throughout gives us a look at poetry’s real charm—glints of beauty, the hard truth, and a unique sense of how these elements reconcile. In every good sense the poems avoid art’s perfections. They tilt. They tilt and create their own gravity. An excellent collection.