Kelly Moffett believes the spirit lies in things–in landscape, air, water. Listen to this, from “Devotion”: “You have become both a wall and a parachute./ Just as lichen can be lichen but also holy food.” In her collection, A Thousand Wings, she leads us through a single day of reverent watching and listening, waiting for transformation, but remaining stubbornly human. Would that we all slowed down enough to want what she wants, “a more tangible space, like some thorny brush,/ I could stare into.” A lovely, aching book.
To read Kelly Moffett’s new poetry collection, A Thousand Wings, you have to have faith that the words will deliver you and they do. Illumination is clarity of vision, momentary and affecting. Reading these poems you feel a deep awareness of and a longing for such illumination. The poems open in the silence of the page and what is revealed are complex truths about our human condition. You are guided by Moffett’s sensuous attention, her vision and her striking language. “All our days could be counted as mercies” (“Sheep Twilight”) and they can if we enter her world of interconnectedness and transient beauty.
Written during long retreats at Trappist monasteries, A Thousand Wings is governed by time, the unfolding time of the section headings (a rough 16-hour span), as well as the existential now that is continually unfolding without history or explanation, as it ponders the important questions, the basic questions of living as a self among others. Addressing a “you” that shifts during the day, Kelly Moffett has created a voice that is both minimal and expansive, able to inhabit the shifting landscapes of the interior community of the self, through the facticity of the natural world, to the precarious longing and isolation of other people, where “one good rain could carry us all down.” It’s a slow book that flies by, as we, through the speaker, “hold hopes of every length.” And above all, it’s a welcome and a welcoming book. I’m very glad to have it.