Lovely does not suffice, nor does lyric. Eloquence is only a grasping in the space of ineffable air. There are few words or phrases that do justice to the soul singing its own revelations. That place is where Last Psalm at Sea Level lives, where it is as solid as gold burning itself into light.
The vivid impermanence of the body is like kindling catching, a source of fire for Meg Day, a poet whose fearless heart is tethered to the world. This is a commanding book and a portent for the vitality of poetry.
The ravishing poems in Last Psalm as Sea Level reveal a world that is itself always more than one thing at a time, in which joy and possibility inhabit precisely the same flesh as trouble and grief. The result is a collection whose perpetual and dazzling transformations are rooted in the world as it is, poems full of mirage and surprise, brash and dizzy with their own discoveries and inventions.
In this writing, the poetic is political; through this investigation the body of the person and the body of the poem both move in new ways. “I am not praying./ I’m longing,” Meg Day writes in an early poem, and that longing sounds a certain thrum under all the noise of the world: “Come home. Come home.”
Meg Day writes: “At five, I pressed my lips to the grate of my grandmother’s/ Crosley, let broadcasts buzz into the pipe of my jawbone/ & learned to listen with my tongue.” And this deep listening is, indeed, what she accomplishes throughout these poems. Meg Day grapples with serious themes – illness, violence, suicide, grief – with admirable skill and approaches issues of sexual orientation, identity, and gender with a true poet’s passion, as in her tour de force, “Batter My Heart, Transgender’d God”: “Terror, do not depart/ but nest in the hollows of my loins… My knees, bring me to them; force my head to bow again. Replay the murders of my kin until my mind’s made new.” This is muscular language, worthy of its inspiration.
“Sometimes, in dreams, I lie awake – the helm/ held by my knees – & steer my craft along/ the shore, searching for light to lead me home. “ Meg Day’s eagerly anticipated first book, Last Psalm at Sea Level, is a search for home shared by both reader and writer. The roads are unmapped, treacherous and full of uncertainty. What we are certain of is the poet’s ability to guide us through. Her poetry is at once patient and urgent, provocative and profound.