“What if the end were as colorless as real / estate?” the speaker asks in Unearth. Poet Chad Davidson’s latest collection takes a hard look at our world as it collapses under numerous trials and tribulations. Fashioned mostly of elegiac poems, Unearth charts the way in which personal grief ripples out to meet and mirror larger systems of loss. The first section deals with local traumas and bereavements—the loss of pets, the disintegration of a friends’ marriage. These tragedies combine with more ominous, larger breakdowns in the second section until, in the final section, grief roils over into historical wickedness, institutionalized violence, and state-sanctioned wrath. Ultimately, “Even the mouth / of a volcano, from far away, / is beautiful.”
The poetry itself offers us vessels into which we can pour out our despair. To understand the failing earth, Davidson’s speaker cajoles us to see the pain at its roots. From the opening poem—a reluctant elegy for a mother—to the final eschatological survey, an ode to maddening violence and destruction on a global scale, this collection imagines a world in which private and public terrors feed on each other, ultimately growing to a fever pitch. An act of resistance, this collection gives voice to our deep-seated emotional pain and offers us constructive ways to deal with it.