Julie Fay’s magnificent Blue Scorpion seeks out the “dense and promising weather” of experience and reports generously on marriage, motherhood, friendship, and expatriate life. But what makes her poems powerful and unique is the way, regardless of their subject, they are always in touch with the “liquid fire our bodies’ goblets contain.” This fire does not burn but rather it illuminates all the particularities and passions of our lives with a warm and steady flame.
These poems tell a story of opening, late blossoming, and new eyes for the world…. The book is infused with the sense of newness and becoming, her rebirth into the woman the first half of her life could not create.
It’s rare that a book of poems is as successful as this one at character portraiture. Any reader will appreciate the rock-collecting girl-child enchanted by nomenclature, the punning Italian-French stonemason, the keen-eyed village neighbor, or the manic-depressive octogenarian father. I think of Rukeyser when I read this poet’s descriptions of sexual passion, its presence and its failures between the no-longer young, of the corporeal world of a woman closer to menopause than puberty, at ease in her body, for whom the connections between the intimate and the global are always present. In the interactions of this American woman with her community of choice—a village in the Hérault region of southwest France—Julie Fay deftly marks the sites of her entry and integration and those where she will remain foreign.
Blue Scorpion—the title suggests both beauty and risk, each of which plays a major role in this remarkable collection of poems. The immediacy of the work never wavers. With pitch-perfect form and ready feeling in the writing, we come to share in and care about the speaker’s many and tender lives. More than that, we are transported to where these poems go, so clear and compelling are these guides. Blunt and clean, elegant in language, landscape, and love, we savor the moment, “the delicious / play of wind on the tongue” in these poems. And we remember them long after the taste, long after and much more.