Parenthood and partnership dwell in Taylor Mali’s poems in addition to a “tender gloom” that comes from having lost a father years before finally becoming one, a late father. Mali’s signature playful eloquence and poignant observations are still at work here, but in these poems, Mali tells us, “all the smallest parts of me . . . can let down their tiny burdens all at once” (“My Sister Asks if She Can See More Grey”), and a wiser, more magnanimous voice emerges, a father’s voice, gently offering up a new invocation:
O, lightning, if you’re listening, disregard
my former invocations. And rain, please bless
my simple little poems; they’re plenty hard
to write, and the world needs them no less.
Let my family if not my other works outlive me.
And to those who have survived the storm, forgive me.
(from “Sonnet on My Former Invocations”)