An award-winning writer conjures the Muse and the “noble gases” in this elemental and incandescent new collection.
Astatine is an Italian girl, who like Dante’s Beatrice, haunts the narrator of Michael Kenyon’s incandescent fourth book of poetry. Named after a radioactive element whose isotopes endure half-lives of mere seconds, she is simultaneously a disappearing and abiding presence who cajoles and comforts, who questions and points, who often leaves the poet puzzled, electrified, heart-broken, and wanting more. Astatine is Kenyon’s meditation on the evanescent and persevering tragedy of our lives on Earth. He takes us on an inspirational journey through time that embraces all we are born to and must too soon let go of, even as we make peace with the ever-changing fortunes of existence, even as we come upon unexpected joy.
Husband of a broken arm, take your time.
Joy is waiting. Joy is almost here.
Look twice at the black dog with three legs.
You just saw a black dog with four legs.
—from “Orpheus XVI”