I have not handled the ordinary well
And wandered into much time spent
Taking on the unfaithful,
Blunder and flaw.
—from "Heaven, Which Is"
The Descent, Sophie Cabot Black's anticipated follow-up to her award-winning debut, The Misunderstanding of Nature, describes a restless spirit at the crossroads of love and damage, rapture and disenchantment, the mountain and the descent. "Heaven is only / What it cannot be," one poem admits, but what is heaven after a beloved departs, after language reveals itself as inadequate, after the harrowing of personal and collective disaster? The voices of these poems struggle through the hesitancies of doubt and loss to end at more than survival, more than witness; they achieve clarity by singing of the resiliencies of paradise, after paradise inevitably fails.
In these spare, lyric outcries, Sophie Cabot Black affirms her place as one of our most spiritually meaningful and ecstatically crafted contemporary poets.