In these lyrical poems, Carol V. Davis explores earthy and mysterious themes. A well-known fairy tale or historical figure is given a contemporary twist. Using haunting imagery, art, the natural world, and place, Between Storms raises questions of faith and reflects on doubts.
In ravishing line after line, Carol V. Davis balances between cultures, between generations, and yes, between storms. She traces her family’s odyssey back to the old world against the tide of survivors escaping from it. She takes us on her own exploration of the American West, where “wind slaps dark against the valley walls,” and “the land flattens in a sigh,” where in the luminous title poem, her dead rise up to protect her, and where she learns along the way, regarding fear, that “the face is/on both sides of the window.” The voice of these poems is true and constant, finding a still, tender center in the upheaval of living.
At her best, Carol V. Davis creates a stark and feeling poetry that is palpable with impending threat as well as with the recurring and sour tang of history. But Davis can also conjure up the beauty amid the terror, so that while “the dark drops its burden/all night long, deepening/” she also shows us how the sky looks “as it empties its buckets/of stars.”
When I began this collection, firmly embedded in my own world, I never expected to find myself so fully engaged in Davis’ world, my passport stamped with one wondrous visit after another to the unique accents of image and vision in her poems. I don’t know where the conversion takes place—is it between “Marshland” and “Roots.”?—that the reader realizes he has experienced something between memorable and miracle.
Even as there is something trapped in the unfurling of petals, there is something trapped in the surface of Davis’s poems in Between Storms that is singing to us. Hard to tell if it is an owl, a mocking bird, or the muse trying to reach us. No matter if the subject is of hunger, ancestral fear, or refuge; no matter if our goal is to draw the shades or cross the expanse, we have no choice but to put down our luggage and risk listening.