Reviews - What do customers think about Femme au chapeau?
Applause for Lady with Hat Jul 7, 2005
If Femme au chapeau were music, it would be a piano sonata: humming sonics and graceful rhymes, use of form that is technically supple without sacrificing emotional heartbeat.
The structure of the book unfolds like a musical exposition: the themes of a childhood recalled without rejection or drama. The recurring character of the father is many-faceted as he "prisms the house,/ planes its corners, smudges/his gray matters on walls,/sanding corners so no one/Can see around them/ to the horse's stare/ and the child who breaks/into a gallop, hooves billowing"(Horse on the Lawn). The father, "a man/whose mouth becomes ocean/ (Ocean House) is also "a man of jazz breezes/around the house, snapping out complaints,/noodling scat phrases that end like sneezes."(Dad-Jazz)
The middle section portrays scenes and observations from far-reaching sources-- exotic locales peopled with unforgettable characters, the paan- chewing painter from India, even a Coach purse treated with wit and charm. The title poem, one of several portrait poems, shows a woman whose "mane/of red is upswept, but wants out." In a time beset by scientific and social change, the painting, "Titled Woman/like so many painter's wives, she seems not to see/the changes or first she'd remove that chapeau, /and its crushing fruit, its dour antiquity."
The third section, Wrestling the Ladder-Angel, recapitulates concerns of our times. The subtle, unsentimental study of the destructive elements of nature, the transience of life, the slippery quality of a creative vocation lead into a joyous invitation at the end "To stand together/in the light that streams/from a hidden source in this world/whenever being meets."
Rachel Dacus has written a beautiful book. This is a deeply satisfying collection.