Katrina Roberts

HOW LATE DESIRE LOOKS

"Opening with the title poem, when the speaker's encounter with a married neighbor lasts "one minute / longer than intended," this scrupulously crafted debut shows us, to quote Jorie Graham, "that perfection can't be kept, / only its perfect instances." In dense lyrics, prose poems, and even double sestinas, consummated desire shatters into restraint, refusal, reciprocity, and finally, despair. Although Roberts plainly acknowledges that the self must "open into" the "harm's way" of experience, a quandary of detail hinders longer poems such as "Fugue," which packs so much operatic theme and minutiae that it collapses into itself, like a black hole. More often, "entire worlds of possibility" are uncovered in neglected recollections and everyday phenomena. Thus a pill becomes a country; an inability to breathe provokes a moving meditation concluding that death often "last[s] only a day," but the passions that make us human, such as fear and memory, 'last longer.'"Copyright 1996, Boston Review