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The Engine Room: Libby Hart

A thoughtful and beautiful meditation on the nature of the human soul, which could be equally a love poem, for one’s self lost and for a lover lost and for all our lost selves, found again in the tender-tough, playful language of this poem. I admire the way the poem moves between abstractions (all of them voiced in image and metaphor—“Listen to its roar. Its wren song./ Its howl. Its hum…Part ache./ Part moonshine./ Part glue and tape./ Nexus of toska and lore…All of memory is mist”) and the personal (“Every time I’ve loved you is logged here./ Each time I lost you. I waited./ I gave up. I took to the godseared road.”) This is a philosophical poem made intimate, made into a world of sound and sense and feeling and mean streets and forests. It works, when it might not, because of the beauty and intelligence, the speech music, the play and the “lilt and tilt” of the language: “About the o in beloved.’ The he in thee…Every glint and glitter./ Each covet, each fever./ Every jeer and gesture… All of my backtracks./ All of my misfires./ All deleted thoughts./ Each and every haste.”) The words of this poem give so much satisfaction and delight. And in all this, the fire and water of Heraclitus’s idea of the soul, plays and seems like a perfect metaphor for the suffering and change and persistence, the mists of confusion and moments of clarity that comprise a life.

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