Daring and witty, erotic and searching, these poems explore the ways we suffer and are changed by our losses.
"Think about sex," this book begins, then moves through the places into which our longings lead us. Here are confessions whispered over the phone in "Phone Sex," sins recounted to priests, "pretend confessions" told to a sister. Here are poems about a mother teaching a daughter to read, a girl trying to read her mother, a woman trying to read lovers, and marriage, and herself.
In this second book of poems (after That Kind of Danger), Masini traces the unplotted yet all-too perceptible boundary between the real and imagined: "Years ago I/ borrowed a life. It was a good life,/ but a man is not a book and I couldn't see/ what held me." The book's first third comprises poems about love and desire: "I am thinking about sex...a half-open book, wanting/ something to reveal/ what all this longing longs for." The sex is often adulterous, and its consequences include divorce. But heartbreak quickly morphs into a metaphor for the relentlessness of human loss. "What is this/ cry is the pipes?/ This hissing steam?/ This thin whistle of sorrow?" Other poems explore the confusing interconnection between sex and religion: "after years of waiting,/ we held it in our mouths--Corpus Christi--that first time,/ that first man we took into our bodies." The book's final section continues the theme of the interplay of fiction and life: the loss of a lover leads Masini to Jane Eyre, the death of one friend leads her to the Tibetan Book of the Living and the Dead, the death of another finds her thinking about the Confessions of St. Augustine. The bulk of the settings throughout are quotidian--riding the subway, packing up an apartment, setting mousetraps, eating fruit with a lover--but Masini focuses on the plain and unadorned pain and loss beneath the ordinary: "Weeks now I've been thinking of disintegration,// the way we hold the bewildered/ lives in our hands,/ let them go."