In her first collection of poems, Abigail Cloud draws inspiration from nineteenth-century European Romantic ballets, which often portrayed scorned females as mystical spirits such as sylphs, shades, and wilis. Some of these creatures seduced men into dancing until they died—punishment for inconstancy or lured them into love. For Cloud, the dark gravity that holds these enchanters to the earth is the same as our own and thus these demons are as everyday as air.
Sylph filters our world through the lenses of dance, folklore, and history, revealing our contemporary lives to be dreamlike and prismatic. “In the blink the mouse spent to disappear, I loved you,” avows the sylph. The cost of her ascension—and ours—is steep: “our price speech, our forgetting breath.” Such are the stakes in this complex, seductive, and stunning debut.
Poems by ABIGAIL CLOUD have appeared widely in journals such as Black Warrior Review, The Cincinnati Review, Copper Nickel, The Gettysburg Review, and Quarterly West. Cloud is on the faculty at Bowling Green State University, where she is editor-in-chief of Mid-American Review.