Work Title: Forth A Raven
Work Author(s): Christina Davis
Alice James Books
80 pages, Softcover $14.95
Reviewer: Camille-Yvette Welsch
In the tradition of Louise Gluck's lyric narratives and religious and near-religious imagery, these poems are stark, lean, and fresh. In them, the poet considers longing and desire, language and death. She begins with the raven and the dove set forth by Noah to report on the status of the flood. While the dove returned, the raven never did. Finally, Davis reports back for the raven, asking what is the status of humanity? For what do we long? What language do we have to name it?
Though this is Davis's first book of poems, she is well and widely published. Currently the associate director of NYU's MFA program and employed with the Poetry Society of America, she edited Illuminations: Great Writers on Writing. Her book of poems offers its own set of illuminations. Her images are learned and original; she writes in "Urban Hymn," "why some things are / only as they are falling." Clearly, she references rain, but with an awareness that the metaphor broadens easily to address man, to include the Christian Fall and other early archetypal stories.
In "The Raven's Book," a dying wife, writing to her missing husband, muses, "If you are alive / you are looking at the moon // and I can trace the isosceles of our seeing." Her use of "isosceles" is typical of the kind of smart...