Read Swallow over the last few days. Where she is strong is on prose poems such as Bestial and The Lost Head from the third section. There is much to like here in terms of turns of phrase, well warped metaphor etc. But I get the feeling that we are in the hands of a craftsperson, who is not bringing us on any real voyage. In Bestial there is the feeling of real conflict in a mothers love and a desire to inflict some pain on the loved one for his neediness, for his embodyment, for his inability to exist without being viewed by the mother. Then she turns mid phantasia (where the child is descirbed as "
"..fragile, almost transparent pale, foxed with sun-gold
splashes. And the lashes: The blue eyes suffer
a surfeit of them, ting scythes, black, baroquely curved.
He is too beautiful by far. The boy must not be so."
Now, you can see the craftsmanship in the lines. It is when she realises that she cannot idealise the boy, or give him a kind of ideal childhood, that things take a genuine twist.
"...the boy is what he must not be. Break him
a tiny bit. Look into him hard enough to wound him. A tiny bit.
Let the eye's stillness magnify the rigour of appraisal. He will not win.
Burn him with your look, his lovely skin."
Similarily in a poem like Citronella we find that within the lovely language of birth, but "Not get the girl I wanted. The boy slit me". It is at these moments where I feel that she is at the edge of an honesty where her craft can be left to as the guide, and the strange journey begins in earnest:
"...The tree is a rare strain -
bred for looking only. But the children open up the lemons
and the small birds eat and grow too full to fly away".