I shape a lamp from hammered
copper and place it in the space.
I leave it with the switch clicked on
and wait—sunlight pours
onto the floor. All through the room
it spreads—the light.
~From the poem “Making Light.”
The collection of forty-two poems in Red List Blue is an invitation to listen, to witness, and to remember, and it’s an invitation well worth accepting. The poems ask us to risk seeing ourselves, to be confused and even a bit lost. They encourage us to find a touchstone and to plant our feet in the rich places they explore. In this book you will find one artist’s experience of the painful, creative, fertile, unpredictable rhythms to which life—human and wild—stagger-dances.
The poet’s writing often carries us from recognizable everyday moments into dreamlike scenarios. The shifts and transitions are made seamless by her thoughtful, measured tone and the way she wields the craft of poetry to create rhythm, movement, and stillness. Fox’s magic as a poet is in using the tools of her art to tuck us to her side with words and imagery so we, as readers, sit quietly with her on the edge of a fountain (in her poem “Impossibilities”), watch the low flight of a pileated woodpecker (from the poem “Certitude of Motion”), or float in bioluminescent waves (in “Bioluminescent”).
One bell-clear beauty of Red List Blue is how Fox positions herself inside the nature she’s writing about. Human nature and wild nature—there aren’t lines of separation or distinction. She skillfully documents and dreams without resorting to sentimentality or imposing her human voice over the wild beings she’s interacting with.
But the robin is back. Even
when the weather won’t stand still,
when it throws my body
into viral confusion with snowstorms,
hailstorms, and sixty-degree winds
all in one week the robin is building her nest.
The robin has work to do. She is singing.
~From the poem “How to Make Art.”
This collection ranges over a rich emotional and experiential terrain. Like so much of life, not every poem is immediately accessible. Some shake themselves and us like a snowglobe and ask us to ponder and persist until the settling snow brings clarity. Others ring quietly clear and bright from first word to last:
I’ve sat here for more than an hour
and am quietly in love with the morning.
Whatever terror is in the world today,
may we meet it with a gentle rise.
~From “A minute to seven.”