Let me confess to having taken the easy way in. My mind first went to the noun (where we sleep), then to the verb (“to sleep with”). Yours may have too, but the more time you spend with this remarkable book, the more you might come to think of planting, tending, picking. A bed of roses—or indeed, no bed of roses. Elizabeth Metzger’s poems act as both repositories and engines of mystery, of “secrets other secrets / have rubbed away,” yet their mysteriousness never feels coy. There’s a difference between hiding information and asserting control over how it’s revealed. “I stayed off-center,” she writes, and to me this has always seemed like one of the better places from which to view things, but hers is furthermore a poetry that recognizes, as Gertrude Stein put it, “there is no use in a center.” Among Metzger’s many gifts is her ability to describe complicated positions simply, facing down the conundrums of language and perspective to devastating effect: “The children left me. / You say they came.”
Elizabeth Metzger is the author of The Spirit Papers (University of Massachusetts Press, 2017), winner of the Juniper Prize for Poetry, and the chapbook The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death (Horsethief Books, 2017). Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Poetry Magazine, American Poetry Review, The Nation, and the Academy of American Poets' Poem-a-Day. Her prose has appeared in Conjunctions, Literary Hub, Guernica, and Boston Review. She is a poetry editor at The Los Angeles Review of Books.