Hachette, $32.99 pb, 435 pp
The poet Anne Michaels once wrote that when love finds us, our pasts suddenly become obsolete science. All the secret places left fallow by loneliness are flooded with light and the immanence of the longed-for one draws us into the clearing, stains us with radiance. Yeats’s wing-footed wanderer arrives at last and the miraculous restorations of love and the imperatives of desire render our separate pasts ‘old maps, disproved theories, a diorama’.
Felicity Volk, sublime prose-poet and sage student of the human heart, knows this not to be true. Our histories mark us indelibly, coursing through us like underground rivers, every wound part of the invisible arterial system of our souls. We cannot slip past some damage done to us; it coalesces and echoes though the lives that we carve out for ourselves, disfigures our future outline in the world.