Left-handed: Poems

Of Jonathan Galassi's third collection of poems, John Ashbery writes, "Heart-wrenching...The narrator of these poems is aware that 'time is short / you have to live it.'" Left-handed tells the story of a married, middle-aged man who comes to terms with immense changes in his life brought about by falling in love with another man. The poems in this collection are sensitive and searching and explore profound loss and new passion simultaneously. From "Still Life"

At the little lake you knew about
we were silent
while the bloodred sun
rang down the scenic view:
white barns and a tree or two
in the flyblown water.

we would have cracked
its mirror with a rock,
a branch that might have lifted
something muddy to the surface.
Instead we kept on staring
and the sun set, several times.

Somewhere it keeps setting,
waits for one of us to still
the thread that hums between us,
not gossamer but steel.

Galassi has devoted years to the translation of Italian poetry and the influence of that work, W. S. Merwin posits, has been "important in the clarity, tone, and intimacy of [the poems in Left-handed—their candor and elegance."

This book review originally appeared in American Poets.