YOU ENVELOP ME

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YOU ENVELOP ME, BY LAYNIE BROWNE

In the mouth of a flower, a dying woman stretches out. A white dove pours bourbon onto a fire, in a place where second lines are formed by poets and gods alike. Laynie Browne’s latest book of poetry negotiates the ways in which we inherit, perform, and endure loss. Guiding the reader through rites of birth, to death and beyond, You Envelop Me is all at once atemporal and in real time. The quiet wake of Browne’s verse comes to rise in fever dreams; moments of radically singular, melodic grief fall with composure onto the percussive hymns of tradition and what can constitute our shareable world. This is a soaring collection whose flight explores the tangential transformation of poetic form alongside the varying stages of grief and loss. “Conceiving a wing-ed book,” Browne writes, “is beginning to sort one’s thoughts,” and here the verse is flush-left, safe, and ordered. This soon gives way to an almost erratic form, as words "fall, bend, warp" across the page in a section that explores divination. The grounded structure of Browne’s later prose poems carefully explore “[a] world permanently different with the beloved removed,” wherein every second is “a moment lost, a moment anticipating drowning.”

Neither liturgical nor crude, reading this text is to hold calling hours for the many deaths within ordinary moments. The delicate reverence of this work asks us to examine in what ways do we speak to the divine? What antiphonies do we perform in the absent hermeneutics of a day? You Envelop Me gives visible trace in its soft reply, a requiem bound in “[a] book—whose wings—swallow me.”

Omnidawn.