"and grief, the sheen we bring to wood
when with repetitive gestures we polish the raw thing."
Into Perfect Spheres Such Holes Are Pierced is about grief, about polishing the raw thing. Poet Catherine Barnett's sister lost both her children in an airplane crash, and this slim volume documents the terrible journey her sister must undergo, as well as all surrounding family members, to try to come to terms with this horrible loss. It's not a book you read rapidly; the pain in its various forms can be visceral. But for anyone who's ever lost someone they loved, or watched someone they love face tremendous grief, this is an important and worthwhile read. Barnett is a spare poet, careful with her words, knowing that sometimes the fewer words that are used, the more devastating the results:
"If theft is a kind of love,
in this way God could be said to love."
She also details the poignant moments when some mourners begin to move on, while others can't, and maybe never will:
"Every day the tide comes right up to the porch.
My sister watches it come in, go out, and once we found
a seal washed up on shore.
I remember it had no head and I think I know why--
those tugboats with their long tow lines
like a knife in water. We didn't speak about the seal
and I half forgot because I have the luxury of forgetting.
For my sister, one day is really no worse than any other,
longing stretched so tight it's a wire dragged through water--"