Therése Halscheid’s latest collection begins with the cold: “icy flakes” and “sentence after sentence moving words/over the winter earth.” She also commences with the gathering power of both words and silences, imagery—along with images of frozen latitudes—that she strings in a loop through this book. The cycle of life is reflected in family, tribe, season, story, and language: “just enough words” is what the speaker here desires most. In these carefully-wrought poems, time freezes and the expected cycles operate uncannily, a father’s brain damage altering family expectations; Alaska’s freezing beauty altering the reader’s assumed stance; Inupiaq wisdom tales transposed to the contemporary (planes, snowmobiles); a girl’s anorexia depicted as a mirror of her father’s wasting away, and as a means of removing herself from him.
wherever the quiet light hitsI am to faithfully hold youtake to my leather skinwhat you have become—
I felt her once, during an inner storm, as a certain chill ran through,after my muscles tightened into big cold mountainsthat she was arranging my ribs, arching them same as the sheltersshe spoke of, in the icy north of Alaska, where they shapewhalebone over driftwood and pack it with sod.
The way Rose tells it was like the spirit of his sonwas in the form of an animal and therewas a strange light around and wind likea slight brushing of feathers …