Two of every naked animal—
Sheets of water,
Stuck nests and lawns,
Your animated face in my hands,
Studded with cigarettes
And then someone recognized us.
Two of every animal
Inside my head.
Noelle Kocot, current poet laureate of Pemberton Borough, New Jersey, is Ascent of the Mothers (Seattle/New York: Wave Books, 2023), a sleek collection of some forty pages of precise, halting and deeply specific lyrics. The thinking space between Kocot’s carved lines are enormous, providing lines and phrases that nearly hover in space. “Let’s be God / For a moment,” the poem “DIVINATION” begins, “Shall we? / That which invites // Composition, / That which is suspended // From a great height, / The presence // Of approximation [.]” Kocot’s lines, at times, feel akin to the English-language ghazal, offering leaps from point to point across a great distance, nearly drawing a line around what is there but neither seen nor spoken, but somehow articulated. “The scope of this book,” as the press release offers, “is marked by a near-fatal car crash, which elicited a new understanding of their spirituality and gender nonconforming identity.” Kocot’s lyrics extend across lengthy threads of narrative, even through such small moments of wise and stunning attention, as the threads across these delicate, fierce poems push and push further. One might say that the scope of these poems are enormous, with poems touching on considerations of spirituality and the divine, physical being and becoming, and of living precisely within each moment. “The intractable landscape,” they write, to open “POEM FOR MY GODDAUGHTER HANNAH,” “the harsh sun / On our faces. Waves of we’re alive. Whatever // Happens to me.”