In her debut collection, Kathy Barham takes us into the mysteries and familial secrets of a rural Virginia childhood and addresses with poignancy and hard-won clarity those home truths. Ultimately, a child’s bafflement and wonder give way to an adult’s curiosity, humor, sorrow, and reverence. As in Robert Lowell’s Life Studies, we are provided a glimpse of family, but—beyond that—Barham moves us out into the beauty of seasons and landscape. In this world, pastures stretch out under air “thick as the buttermilk halo/ around tonight’s moon.” These are often quiet poems, but humorous ones too, in the company of sparrows, deer, snow, cows, broom sage, and foxes. Who knew that such deft lyrics could be so ample, in and out-of-doors? —A.V. Christie
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