March 10, 2009

Review by Maureen Alsop

by Sarah Maclay

University of Tampa Press
401 W. Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33606
ISBN: 978-1-59732-042-9
2008, 84 pp., $12.00

A mesmeric music that “starts inaudibly, as all music starts…” (3) within Maclay’s The White Bride moves not only from poem to poem, but from outer ear to inner throat. The arc of the book is a crescendo of image and silhouette guided by a voice with one leg in the city and one leg in another century, past or future–one cannot be sure. The voice, delicate, whispers calmly as the reader engages the motion of waves while standing at the edge of a cliff.

Elegy isn’t even elegy, but something deeper: this is what they touch. It is the only music but it is not really sad. They do not cry, they do not have to cry, they are the same wave. Later they cannot talk about it, say the wrong things; make promises they cannot keep or promise not to promise. Anything they say flattens into ribbons, curls away. It is this simple: start by asking her about her day, start by asking him about his day, and then begin. Listen with your fingers. The sea is dangerous they say, but not if you’re the sea. (3)

Maclay’s voice is the sea, and a reader is quickly catapulted by the marvelous waves of The White Bride’s musical language.

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