Mapping the Fourth Dimension Reviews


Let the April rains come in.
I am a sloping hill with new buds piercing.

So opens one of the poems in MAPPING THE FOURTH DIMENSION, the 2006 collection from Laura Davies Foley. And it's one of the gentler openings in the book, but it heads toward the final lines:

I have no skin.
My hair is gone.
The candle within draws deeper.

And that solemnity, that willingness to paint loss in its sorrows as well as its potential, rings with honesty. Wherever or whenever we'll have the chance to meet and hold our dead again, the time between now and then hurts. Foley says goodbye and "I miss you" repeatedly in this collection.

Yet each poem is as different from the others as one face is from the faces around us. The poem "Exiled," for instance, proclaims absence -- then paces through walking by a lake or through winter, and at last into summer:

And in this walking,
this movement away, I came to a clearing
and received the clearing light,
the clouds moving apart, and you,
like a footprint
filling now with sand,
and the wide shore stretching on.

It fascinates me that Foley's second collection, SYRINGA, published in 2007, seems to have overlapped the first collection in gestation time -- each book mentions the other. But SYRINGA, springing from contemplation of a wounded waterbird and from a parallel contemplation of self and spirit, gathers light in great, sweet-scented armfuls and proclaims joy and blessing from these roots. Consider "A Day":

I was watching the geese sleeping.
I was watching the one
with the broken wing.
The serene one, floating in her painful knowledge.

As Foley leads the lines through patterns and shifting light, she resolves the poem with:

The ordinary is always like that.
Always ready to reveal itself
as something other.

But it isn't other.
It's just the ordinary.
And isn't that
the extraordinary thing we come to know?

In SYRINGA there waits also the sea at dusk; a five-year-old child diving; a solstice sparrow; and moments from hospice caring. The lines are generally short, the poems a page more or less, and the images unforgettable.

 —Beth Kannell, Kingdom Books

"My hand reaches through the spaces to touch/ the ones who are not there,"  writes Laura Davies Foley in the title poem of this collection. These poems are eloquent about loss and silence. How does the world look once we realize it will never again be the world we want? Laura Davies Foley's poems ask that question again and again and give us the answers of a lifetime.

—Will Walker, author of Carrying Water

"In this collection of poetry, Mapping the Fourth Dimension, Laura Davies Foley meditates upon the death of a significant love with poems that are dreamy and ecstatic. Fused with the terrible knowledge that comes only with direct experience she writes: "I knew then what Dido must haveknown at her fiery end." Using direct plain language she invites the reader into her world of loss, which is simultaneously, a world suffused with hope."

—Jackson Wheeler, Founder of The Ventura Poetry Festival, Former co-editor of Solo, author of Swimming Past Iceland and contributor toA Near Country: Poems of Loss.