Albedo by Kathleen Jesme
Ahsahta Press, 2014; 105 pp
Reviewed by Rebecca Ligon


A stunning examination of grief, personal struggle, and the human condition, Kathleen Jesme's Albedo is a collection that feels intensely alive. At a glance, what some may mistake for barely controlled chaos is, in fact, a structured form of variety. Jesme bends form and structure to her will, mixing strict prose with poems that leap across the page. Some lines are short and clipped, beckoning your eye to move quickly down the page, while others meander and immerse you in rich details. Each poem brings to mind the pleasure and pain that life bestows upon us. The title of the collection takes its name from the method of measuring the reflectivity of the earth's surface, and Jesme makes good use of shadows, silhouettes, and reflections. The landscape depicted throughout is wintry, stark, and beautiful, and nature acts as silent witness to the death of the speaker's father, as well as what comes after. With keen references to Ovid and German physician Anton Mesmer, Jesme creates a multi-layered portrait of life after death.