This fine collection of work by Audrey Shafer is subtitled "Poems by a Doctor/Mother." The book begins with a section containing poems of personal history and experience ("that I call home"), descends into the nether world of anesthesia ("not quite sleep"), and in the final section returns to the light with a new perspective on the texture and occurrences of ordinary life ("okay for re-entry").Among the more medically oriented poems, see especially "Spring," "Anesthesia," "Three Mothers," Monday Morning (see annotation in this database), "Gurney Tears," "Center Stage," and "Reading Leaves." "Don’t Start, Friend" takes up the topic of substance abuse among anesthesiologists (or physicians, in general).


Anesthesia / is simple / you go to sleep / you wake up . . . These poems demonstrate that good poetry, too, often appears simple on the surface, but like anesthesia is not so simple: "you are different / in between / and after."Audrey Shafer’s work contains a unique blend of tenderness and steadiness that makes her a recognizable and welcome voice among contemporary physician-poets. Her images are powerful and compelling. Consider, for example, "gardenias thick as lust" and the "gauze-choked winter sun." Her line is graceful, yet disciplined; her language imaginative, even transcendent, yet always grounded in "flesh, arm, artery, earlobe" and always aware of "the scrape of the key in the lock." Many of these poems reveal that the most ordinary moment in life can also be "the glory and the answer."


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