The Bitter Withy

Donald Revell's eleventh book is a collection of the crisp, intense poems for which he is known. The poems face the metaphysical and the religious head-on while leaving the reader with a feeling of new vision and open meditation. Revell does not sink into thoughts of death but plunges forward through them into a relationship with the beyond. When his leaps are mysterious, they give rise to a familiar feeling, the pleasure of struggling with an idea until it is a companion. Part prayer, part song of childhood, family, and nature, the poems create a meditative knowing about the world. The poem "Monterey" ends:

My father's birthday.
He is in heaven with his eyes.
When I was a child I was rain,
And he and God were all the clear,
Fragrant spaces and mind among mine.
The birds knew, and the rainbow too. I was

This book review originally appeared in American Poets.