After the Ark by Luke Johnson
NYQ Books, 2011; 84 pp
Reviewed by Dana D. Livermore


"Someone told me an adult life/ does not begin until you see a parent die/ and know it’s possible."

Dedicated to his mother, Reverend Katie Finney (1948–2002), Luke Johnson’s first collection of poems, aptly titled After the Ark, is at once deeply personal and ubiquitous. Johnson skillfully interweaves domestic scenes that reveal the complexity of family relationships in the aftermath of loss with those of the various pastoral landscapes to which we are compelled to return, again and again. Through the lightness and malleability of language, these poems balance the weight of loss, the oft times alienating grief that ensues, and the uncertainty that our faith in remembrance is a means for atonement. For anyone who has lost a parent, this collection belongs on their bookshelf because it offers readers the opportunity to appreciate what remains after the flood: the ark as a vessel brings forth a pure awareness of life in all its struggles and triumphs.