Book Review: Jeffrey Bean’s GIRL READING A LETTER AT AN OPEN WINDOW

Jeff Bean’s new chapbook is full of domestic tensions, strung with thread to a “you” we don’t exactly need a face for. Delicate yet strong emotions provide the current (you’ll see what I mean), but are laden fully with totally visceral aesthetics and images, nearly touchable but frustratingly as delicate as the current.

“Can you feel / the notes you don’t play? / They slide like fingers / along the skin / of the room.”

Some of these, I’ll admit, I have a special fondness for in that Bean taught in my undergraduate program, so these settings feel familiar and imagesclose to me. But that doesn’t dampen their ability to be translated, to be plucked and replanted wherever else. These places are the commons.

Bean swoops down and briefly scans the quiet domestic moments that can be haunting, devastating, seemingly average and yet entirely consuming, and does so with a healthy bit of humor, because how else to tackle these walled-in instances. But like, aren’t these fragments of life both shared and intimate and therefore worth exploring? Aren’t they mini-horror-stories set in pastel?

“A father / now, I understand birds, / how unbearably thin / their voices are.”

Bean applies just the right texture and proximity to these things without smothering them or letting them slip through his or your fingers. You want to touch these scenes and you can feel them on your molars.

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