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This review is taken from PN Review 259, Volume 47 Number 5, May - June 2021.

Cover of Diary of a DivorceCover of Birmingham Canal NavigationCover of The Nine Mothers of Heimdallr
Rory WatermanMapless Navigations
S. D. Curtis, Diary of a Divorce (Arc, 2020)

Cliff Yates, Birmingham Canal Navigation (KFS, 2021)

Miriam Nash,The Nine Mothers of Heimdallr (Hercules, 2020)
Sometimes, when I listen to music as I read, the two snap into alignment. ‘If you’re living the unliveable by loving the unloveable it’s time to start changing the unchangeable’, sang Bill Callahan in his comfortable baritone, as my eyes first settled on ‘Flight’, the second poem in S. D. Curtis’s Diary of a Divorce:

We are dumb animals too
– flightless and graceless –
holding on too long to wedding rings
that long to be set in orbit

But this is a pamphlet of anger, more than of resolution – from the dedication, ‘for my (ex) husband, the Banker’, to the final poem, perhaps its biggest accomplishment – an unresolving, calm unpacking of a kind of grief:

If I could write your body, as so many men
have written women; our heavy thighs, our breasts,
our necks, I’d conjure the rising hill of your shoulder,
the gentle slope of pectoral muscle.

As my tongue seeks the familiar indentations
and smooth surfaces of the teeth inside my mouth,
so my mind encompasses – strokes – the movements
of your body in space. Our space.

I would, I would, I would. Save. Carry.
Digest. But we can both recall my surrender
at the feet of your absence.

Most of these poems similarly follow the meandering route of a mind as it maplessly navigates new experience. It all gets a bit samey at times, and that ...

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