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The Field, Poems by Rhina P. Espaillat
The piercing meters and rhymes of Rhina P. Espaillat's The Field evoke the world in sharp, etched relief-its scenes and lives, its emotions and memories.
"No words of mine will do justice to The Field, Rhina P. Espaillat's new collection of poems. But, by good luck, a phrase in one of her poems, 'A Spanish Galleon Contemplates the Future', happens to say it for me: 'the words are jewels arrayed . . .' I could just end my remarks right there.
As the title promises, The Field takes us into the natural world; the vehicle we travel in is Espaillat's 3-D language. She shows us 'pools wearing only sky', 'clouds foaming around the sun,' the 'crystal tears' of icicles, 'roots like a clot of veins, a brooding varicosity.' A head of lettuce 'suggests a closer kinship with the rose, whose open heart remembers how to close.' Spanish names are coins 'unwilling to be melted and reminted' into Americanized forms. And we visit other territory-debates, for example, about the behavior of a hypothetical deity (not to mention his existence).
Espaillat's poems often sound like conversation, where her ear is most at home and where we feel like participants in the discussion. A few overheard words might launch her, say, on a 14-line verbal journey. But whatever the form of the poem, we accompany her; and even if she takes us somewhere bleak, the scenery of wit and words makes sense of the places we run across."