Reviewed by Kendall Bell
In her first book, Schuyler Peck wears her bruises for all to see, yet finds a way to hold them as keepsakes, rather than scars from abuse or trauma. Peck writes with a sense of fragility, but without regret—looking forward, rather than behind her, and because of this, she separates herself from many of her contemporaries. The back cover of the book reads This is a full-body kind of love, from my bones to yours, and the poems within live up to that promise. Some of them, like the book’s final poem, “Your Life Before Your Eyes”, are little vignettes into a life, with lovely, descriptive lines like The feeling when your feet fall asleep on road trips. The taste of warm caramel when autumn starts to come around. You broke your leg playing soccer and swore that was the worst you’d ever feel. He hit you and you swore you’d never go back. You were wrong both times. By the end of the poem, Peck is left feeling that getting through it all is more important than living life in the “right” way. The poems are unapologetic in their honesty, and while they may lack some of the visceral nature of other confessional poets, they offer more beauty and humanity in their softness. In one of the books best poems, “To Be Human”, she offers I don’t know if we plant ourselves to grow into Oak trees, or become stars or spooks or spirits that come out under the moon, full of warmth and no hands to give it away. In “I Met Poetry At The Back of A Bar”, she pines, When my days are done, I hope I leave this life loud. I hope something about my loss lasts, the way we can still watch the Big Bang rippling through on a static screen. This is an impressive debut from a young poet that has an understanding of both subtlety and restraint, as well as how beautiful it can be to leave yourself vulnerable to life sometimes.