By Chelsi Sayti
This book welcomes the spell of a room. Domestic and meditative, poet Eryn Green is looking out the window of nature and memory to define home. The Yale Younger Poets prize-winner’s second collection, BEIT, praises the newness at the heels of every moment, the connection between the immediate and holy ancient. Judaic mystic tradition and reflections on the Hebrew Aleph-Bet give history a place in home’s fluctuating scope. Home is heritage, it is full of birds and branches and captured in the day’s minutiae. “H sticks out / one foot from under the blankets-and the storm / of my life tunes up” (from the poem “Auberge”). The deep spirit of this book emerges from an abundant familial love. There is so much joy in family here. BEIT explores home and asks urgently, Here is all this good, how can it be?
These poems are flushed and alive, “This insistent/ gift in us, breath / of transience, a daily kind / of echo, practice, promise / of real transgress” (from the poem “Achilles Mourning the Death of Patroclus”). Green visits us with existential gratitude, showing the triumph in continued existence. There is an awe that affirms life in the deluge of experience. “We say breathing / is hard when we feel / most alive-what must one be / but dancing?” (“Auberge”).
Like the spiritual visions it describes, BEIT is curious and in motion, losing itself to sound and demonstrating grand order. “O now that the aspens quake / in unison outside today being of one / perfect chorus, form, affection, animal eye, addiction” (from “The Difference Between a Poison and a Food”). Green’s poems are sung, light through glass, lost and discovering themselves as they go. There is a practiced joy in their meditations. “Shiver / ever / green / every changing part of me” (from “Hekhelot (Winter, NY)”).
Fear of missing what’s important encourages the same recognition in us, “not listening / when the thrush birds speak-/ In danger of not speaking myself / where I stand, not recognizing/ the going home/ of sticks and stones and hands held out / across tables” (from “Fog”). Through its music, this call to attention of the everyday becomes a prayer, “riot of spirit / any minute now / the whole swell of it / good god it / was perfect” (from “First Heaven”).
BEIT illustrates a spiraling geometry, “wheels / within wheels, the world” (from “Merkavah (Chariot Scene)”), a symmetry between the smallest intimate familiar and the infinite, “every time a universe explodes / a chromosome knows to reassemble” (from “Dear Unimaginable: Portal (Wilder Shores of Love)”). BEIT searches through home and finds the divine.
BEIT | Eryn Green
New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2020
97 pages | $16