Cynthia Hogue’s eighth collection is a palimpsest-like book of impressions, visitations, and looming figures—whether spirit or impending environmental destruction. Its invented title plays on revenant, the French word for ghost (literally, “the returned”), but also conjures reverence and its holy connotations. Appropriately enough, Hogue has taken on the role of poet-seer with dedication; her undertaking is “[t]o seek the source, / that steep alley of / stone, // to make the long / climb to thatched hut to find what’s / what, // to encounter / reality’s / prismed: // a window of light, corner of fire...” Often, like “The Woman Who Talked with Trees” Hogue is acting as medium, putting supernatural encounters into words, sometimes led by a guide named Blake on a global-warming tour, or transposing other artists’ work into ekphrastic poems. The book’s striking second section, “Interview with a Samizdat Poet,” is an erasure of sorts, of a poorly recorded interview transcript abandoned years earlier. In its short prose introduction, Hogue writes:

     I want the reconstructed piece to confirm, by the very fact
     of its existence, that something that is no more once
     took place, bodied forth, returning like a revenant: not
     whole, but changed. Struck by an absence at once partial
     and absolute.

This is the pervading spirit of Hogue’s newest work: a communion with that which is no more, be it memory, ecosystem, or loved one—to create a space, safe from time, in which to do this work, when she’s “so often woken to a voice, / a vibration, saying over and over, // You have a few minutes. This is a test.”

This book review originally appeared in American Poets, Fall-Winter 2014.