Opening Eva Zimet’s first book of poetry The Lost Grip makes the reader feel drawn unexpectedly into a Tango lesson offered by a skilled instructor who is also a Zen master.
You can’t stand back and watch. Your hand has been taken; an arm touches your back lightly; you are drawn onto the floor. You feel the pain the writer has known, but you are not allowed to step back and offer comfort. You must feel and share it in the dance.
This delicate, piercing volume sometimes confides, sometimes spins you around, sometimes tugs you back in close, sometimes pauses and stands there with you waiting.
In “A Dreamspace For All of Us,” Zimet writes: “I dreamed of a space for us / any of us, all of us.” But instead of some comfortable, welcoming home, she concludes:
The floor is wide-planked and smooth.
The space is otherwise empty.
I sleep against the wall.
Daniel also slept by the wall in a studio, and he survived.
We are the most intimate, in that.
The book is haunted by violence and the struggle to recover trust and intimacy. Sometimes it is brusque and almost protective in tone. In “Risk,” Zimet writes: “I wanted to share the freefall of intimacy / with you. Didn’t happen.”
The poems reveal again and again a guarded strength that will not be overwhelmed by loss. In “Three Jewls: A Commentary,” Zimet concludes:
I am still with the contents of this emptiness,
no relic, no recognizable thing.
There was nothing there after all,
but my gift.
This book is not for the faint of heart, but when you stick with it, it sticks with you, and in its own spare, powerful way offers unexpected comfort.
The Lost Grip by Eva Zimet, Rootstock Publishing, December 15, 2020.
Reviewer bio: Scudder H. Parker lives in Vermont and is a poet and author of Safe as Lightning.