Norman Dubie's Groom Falconer in 1992, three years after its publication (though I was reading then at a voracious rate, I'd not yet found Dubie's poems; it was Susan Prospere, I think, who recommended that I seek him out). In these recent days of various uncertainties, I find myself craving poems that ring with striking clarity, a resonant sense of place, and the sudden shock of slippage--the leap of the mind into a striking and seemingly-unbidden image--that makes this book such a welcome place for my own mind to return to. Here, for example, is the final poem in the book. Tell me if that last line doesn't prickle the hair on the back of your neck! And yet its sudden, jolting arrival feels completely organic to the space created by the poem. Dubie is a marvel. I'll never read enough of his work.
[for Patrick & Robert]
Someone calls Duchess, our fawn Great Dane, back
Across the dusty road: she’s nearly to the lawn
When the Buick hits her, she rolls
And then gaining her legs
Runs into the field of goldenrod where my father
Finds her; when he presses
The large folded handkerchief against the wound, it vanishes
Along with his forearm. She was months dying.
One night returning from my aunt’s house, we stopped
At a light and watched a procession of cars
Coming down out of the first snow, down
Out of the mountains, returning to Connecticut. Everywhere
Roped to the hoods and bumpers were dead deer.
The man behind us honked
His horn. My father waved him on. He hit
The horn again. My father got out and spoke
With him in a voice that was frightening
Even for a man with a horn. We left the door open
And the four of us sat there in the dome light
In silence. Wanting to be fair,
I thought of squatting cavemen, sparks flying
From flints into dry yellow lichen and white smoke
Rising from Ethel Rosenberg’s hair.