Discoveries: Henri Cole

By Susan Salter ReynoldsSeptember 24, 2011

Touch: Poems by Henri Cole

“IT'S GOOD FOR THE EGO,” Cole writes in the poem “Hens,” “when I call and they come running.” “My hair went away in the night while I was sleeping,” he writes in “Myself Departing.” “How far off / the modern world seems,” he writes in “Dolphins.” “Beauty remains unshattered.” In this new collection, Cole appears to be piecing the world back together, one observation, one piece of awe at a time. These are small poems about shining moments, remembered objects and unseen sacrifice. “Be kind to him,” he writes in “Swimming Hole, Buck Creek, Springfield, Ohio,” “Stranger that he is.” These are sober poems, perhaps a little less playful than his usual, but the scale is similar: Cole scans the landscape for small clues. “The air smells ornery,” a woman thinks in “Rain and Mountains.” The poet remembers bicycling past a daffodil farm in his youth; he peoples the “empty page” with a jumble of details that evoke solitude, happiness, tenderness, confusion. The reader feels his effort (not always a bad thing) as memories and objects slip through, as the adult writer looks back and seems to say: I am not trapped in this voice or any other. Emotions pass; things disappear: “How poignantly emptiness cries out / to be filled.” 

LARB Contributor

Susan Salter Reynolds is a book critic and writer who lives in Los Angeles and Vermont. She has three children: Sam, Ellie, and Mia.


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