D. Nurkse’s deeply satisfying new collection is a haunted love letter to the far corners of his hometown, Brooklyn, New York, and a meditation on the selves that were left behind in those indelible places.
Here Nurkse brings alive the particular details that shape a life, in this case unique to the world of Brooklyn—a job at the Arnold Grill, “topping off drafts with a paddle” for the truckers who came in; the deaf white alley cat that mysteriously survived the winter on a stoop in Bensonhurst; the narrow bed where young love took place; the wild gardens behind the tenements. His exploration of this almost mythic city past is combined with a sense of the future speeding toward us—the ongoing riddle of time and being in a larger universe.
. . . And she who was driving said,
We know the coming disaster intimately but the present is unknowable.
Which disaster, I wondered, sexual or geological? But I was shy:
her beauty was like a language she didn’t speak and had never heard.
From “The Present”
D. Nurkse is the author of nine previous books of poetry. His recent prizes include a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Guggenheim Fellowship. A former poet laureate of Brooklyn, he has also written widely on human rights.