A searing new collection from one of our country's most important poets
"Typically cryptic, God said three weasels
slipping electric over the rocks
one current conducting them up the tree
by the river in the woods of the country
into which I walked
away and away and away
"Once in the West," Christian Wiman's fourth collection of poetry, is as intense and intimate as poetry gets--from the "suffering of primal silence" that it plumbs to the "rockshriek of joy" that it achieves and enables. Readers of Wiman's earlier books will recognize the sharp characterization and humor--"From her I learned the earthworm's exemplary open-mindedness, / its engine of discriminate shit"--as well as his particular brand of reverent rage: "Lord if I implore you please just please leave me alone / is that a prayer that's every instant answered?" But there is something new here, too: moving love poems to Wiman's wife, tender glimpses of the poet's children, and, amid the onslaughts of illness and fear and failures, "a trace / of peace."