Midnight Lantern: New and Selected Poems

This substantial volume of Tess Gallagher's new and selected poems spans nearly forty years, and highlights her presence in American poetry as a spiritual guide, a speaker who often addresses her readership directly and openly. This is evident in poems like, "Because the Dream is My Tenderest Arm" which ends, "if I speak of the soul, it is only to use a halo of doubt / to mark the site of a true disappearance."

Included in this collection are many of her later, elegiac poems written in homage to loved ones, including her late husband, Raymond Carver. In a poem for Carver titled "Sixteenth Anniversary", she writes

We survive on ritual, on
sweet peas in August, letting
the scent carry us, so at last the door
swings open and we’re both
on the same side of it for a while.

The book ends with a series of new poems written in western Ireland, evoking the scenery with Gallagher's singular sense of spirituality and mystery.

This book review originally appeared in American Poets, Fall 2011, Issue 41.