Domain of Per­fect Affection

Robin Beck­er
  • Review
By – October 26, 2011
Domain of Per­fect Affec­tion, Robin Becker’s sev­enth col­lec­tion of poems, begins with a mantra (‘to plant/​the self like an orange tree in the desert/​and irri­gate, irri­gate, irri­gate’) and ends on a note of grat­i­tude: Today I put my faith in our nat­ur­al gifts — /​good humor, good friends, the nick-of-time — /​in your wild heart that inclines toward mine.’ The tree has blos­somed. There are a num­ber of gor­geous pas­toral details through­out the col­lec­tion, so vivid­ly and apt­ly describ­ing the nat­ur­al world they bring to mind the poems of Mar­i­anne Moore and Eliz­a­beth Bish­op. Unlike Bish­op, Beck­er writes can­did­ly, if often sub­tly and indi­rect­ly, about her sex life. In Salon,” she writes of her mother’s gay hair­dress­er, only with him may she dis­cuss my lover and me/​and in this way inti­ma­cy takes the shape/​of the after­noon she pass­es in the salon,/in the domain of per­fect affec­tion.’ This book seeks that domain in dif­fer­ent loca­tions, in paint­ings and books, in rela­tion­ships with friends, par­ents and lovers, in nature — here is Becker’s knock­out first line of the poem Rain”: I decid­ed to love its drench­ing monop­o­lies.’ I decid­ed to love this book, full of poems dis­tilled in mem­o­ry, clothed in lan­guage that is by turns vir­tu­osic and qui­et, aston­ish­ing and accu­rate. One might say of it what Beck­er does of friend­ship, that it is nei­ther inter­mit­tent, nor divisible/​into parts, but abo­rig­i­nal, dis­cor­dant, the new music.’
Jason Myers is a writer whose work has appeared in AGNI, BOOK­FO­RUM, and Tin House.

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