The Watercourse

Cynthia Zarin
February 2002

In her third book of poetry, her first in eight years, Cynthia Zarin, one of the finest poets of her generation, has turned her art to fresh purposes. Taking up the subject of divorce and the splintering and re-forming of family that follows it, Zarin, whose work has been compared to that of Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, addresses the passage through a time of guilt and sorrow in an oblique yet precise tone that is unique in contemporary poetry. At the book’s center is a powerful sequence of love poems, in which she asks, “Is it light on the trees / that turns them to pale fire / or is it spring, come without / warning to this town on / stilts … ?” Whether taking a brood of children to the swimming pool, contemplating a parrot, or imagining a temperate landscape “where Orion / could shoot the bear along the river, and miss, and miss,” Zarin continually reveals beauty in subtle statements of feeling.

The Watercourse is a gorgeous, mature, and profoundly moving collection.