Betty Scott’s poems come bravely to the heat of a central question: “how does the spirit / stay alive?” They show that the spirit’s livelihood may depend on vivid consideration of the surprises gleaming in the places where “the infinite and minuscule breed,” even among the deaths and demolitions that closely live with us. These are the “poems as prisms” of one who knows that love is a splintered thing, and yet to “listen kindly” can lead us to the “earthworms / plucked from grief’s soil.” Is it an accident that “soil” almost rhymes with “soul?” In this book, in which the upkeep of attention feels like a matter of public health and Scott’s cultivation of a garden of forms brings intent and inventive music to poems of history and ecology, I don’t think so.

Zach Savich, author of six books of poetry, teaches at Univiversity of the Arts, Philadelphia

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