The Border Kingdom
From the award-winning poet: a powerful collection that explores the biblical past and the terrifying politics of the present, the legacy of fathers and the flawed kingdoms they leave their sons.
In “Ben Adan,” a stunning poem in the opening sequence of the collection, we witness the drama between a captor and the prisoner commanded to dig his own grave (“perhaps in a moment / he will lift me up / and hold me trembling, / more scared than I / and more relieved”). “After a Bombing” examines children’s drawings as deep symbolic reactions to 9/11. The subtly majestic “Lament for the Makers of Brooklyn” builds the poignant case for a lost world: “Where is Policastro the locksmith now?” the poet asks. “Half-blind, he wore two pairs of glasses / held together by duct tape, / . . . / afterward the key turned / for you but not for me.” In exploring the small empires of human conflict, which expand in all directions, Nurkse is attuned to the scraps of beauty or insight that marginal characters and corners of the world might offer up in the midst of moral darkness. With The Border Kingdom, he has given us a collection unfailingly rich in imagery, undaunted in subject and spirit.