This collection, ShallCross, was completed before Ms. Wright’s unthinkable death this January. The poems here find her thoroughly in control of her singular craft, her writing ever cogent, inventive, fiercely humane, and unabashedly tender. The sadness in reading this book comes from the inescapable knowledge that there will be no more work like it created. The joy comes from having it to read.
Of course, this book is a haunted and haunting one. Indeed, its opening poem is written in the voice of one about to be buried. Writing about one’s death has been done by many poets. For some the topic is or was a staple. Yet, as she has done so many times before, Ms. Wright transforms the common, or rather, reveals the uncommon within it. Few poets have been able to so skillfully investigate and honor both the multitude and the individual as she. How elegantly at ease the deceased’s voice is, the words a kind of a liberation. Here follows an excerpt from the poem–
from “Some Old Words Were Spoken”
… For dying this way is a snap: no menus,
no wine lists, no taxis, no tickets,
no bulging duffle riding a conveyor belt
in the wrong capital; no one waiting
at the gate with a hand-lettered
sign. No, in fact, destination in mind.
Just an unseasonable chill. For dying
this way is nothing. Is like losing
a sock. A photograph is being set up
by my friend, the wedding photographer,
in which everyone is touching
everyone else and then everyone drifts off
into separate cars trailing swirls of dust.