She is a master of ekphrasis. Take her poem “Giocometti’s Dog” in the collection of the same name. She has contrived to open by posing a set of negations (what this particular sculpture of an animal cannot) and turns in mid poem to reanimate the beast (“Giacometti’s Dog is coming back / as a jackal”) and concludes with bravura:
He’s not your doggie-in-the-window.
He’s not racing into a burning house or taking your shirt
between his teeth and swimming to the beach.
He’s looking out for Number One,
he’s doing the dog paddle and making it
to shore in this dog-eat-dog world.
The twists and turns of this particular poem are more complex and varied than I describe here. Suffice it to say that the skill displayed in these lines appears years later in a poem with a slightly different tone but an equally suggestive ending that leads one to think about species survival. In Domain of Perfect Affection there is a poem describing the aftermath of a forest fire in New Mexico. “The Dome Fire” adopts quotation from the words of a guide on a trip through Yellowstone to leave the poem to conclude on the hovering image of succession. The blackened Yellowstone gives way to
Rose and turquoise saturated mountain phlox
and larkspur It begins with the wildflowers
she said and then the world comes back
She, by the way, borrowing another’s words to recount the aftermath, to record the transformation of the blackened and scorched place, is the poet Robin Becker.
And so for day 1079