In her haunting debut book Temper, Beth Bachmann sets free a tense and eerie confession of unknowns. The harrowing tale of a murdered sister and a suspect father connect these lyrics as tense relationships are unflinchingly examined—with god, with family, with space, with self—the poems shy away from nothing. They are grief-ridden, angry, nostalgic, and most notably, courageous.
The mastery of restraint in Bachmann’s language, the precise control of sound, and the cold, forensic imagery offers no sacrifice, only distance, only violence. An unapologetic voice admits “it is my nature to deceive you” and moves on. There is no redemption here.
Half dead flowers, unsympathetic animals, blood, hazy lights, and the power of silence hypnotize as often as they horrify and between it all is the body of a naked teenage girl. This story will grab on, refuse any condolence, and remain present in the skittering of leaves, the smell of rust, the empty space behind a shadow…these poems will remind, but never seem to reconcile. And through it all is the whisper of myth, the question of truth, and the invitation to stand, uneasy, in an empty lot near the train tracks and find something beautiful.