In "The Wereman," Atwood's Moodie watches her husband stride off into the forest and she wonders "unheld by my sight/what does he change into." When he returns, "he may change me also/with the fox eye, the owl/eye, the eightfold eye of the spider/I can't think/what he will see/when he opens the door." The metaphor of marriage as a wilderness in which shapes shift and uncertainty reigns is both inspired and apt to Moodie's historical circumstance -- a time when near strangers often married.
By ventriloquizing the reluctant frontierswoman
-- "I am a word/in a foreign language" -- Atwood
fuses the interior and exterior landscapes (the
personal and political) with a low-key yet
vibratory elegance. This slip-cased reprint, with
deliciously spooky illustrations by Charles
Pachter, is a model of printed art -- the
high-energy jostling of text and imagery creates a
lush detonation that obliterates the slightly
over-earnest scent that can cling to these poems
in starker circumstance.