The bleak ferocity of Kirschner’s lines often comes nigh to overwhelming this narrative of an abused childhood but then the strength of the imagery, a richness for which this poet is known, seizes the nightmares and transforms them into events that can be handled, shaped and put aside. No, not a happy ending but one that locates dignity and the forever force of life.
These poems are dark, iridescent beads strung along a narrative of embattled childhood that supports but never overrides the lyrical force of Kirschner’s voice and vision. The narrative begins with a mother’s violence and follows its effects upon the daughter’s inner landscape — the visions, the bouts of madness, the circling smoke of memory — as she grows older. It’s the landscape that generates the force behind these poems, rendered as it is with stunning imagery at every turn, and with urgent rhythms that push towards a kind of exorcism. These poems confront hard things head-on, but far from being sensationalistic or depressing, they are lush, fierce, and lovely.