Todd Hearon’s haunting debut collection chronicles the twin paths of isolation and desire in the search for meaning and union with others. On his pilgrimage through the lost worlds of earth and the soul, the speaker encounters drought in both the literal and spiritual sense as he confronts desolate landscapes, from the brown remnants of ruined cities, to the depths of the human heart and man’s capacity for utter destruction. Yet even though he frequently encounters darkness, he never ceases to seek beauty. He is a man who wears many faces, from Adam, staring down a bleak future bereft of Paradise, to the doomed poet Shelley, drowned off the coast of Italy. He speaks as a man adrift in his own life, seeking an answer to his emptiness, an estranged traveler through memory and longing. Lyrical and intense, Strange Land is a quest for understanding and human connection.
It goes without saying
a word: the world under cover
of midnight snow, what we have known
of pageantry and lilac, leaf and song
subsumed in starless silence.
Waking at dawn into the tremulous blue
of the room, as in earth’s afterglow,
we lie, lidless, listening, as crows
call out the ear’s horizons.
What year is it? Into what country were we born
and now must make our way? Outside the pane
the stillness feels ancestral but the ghosts
not yours, not mine. My émigré,
we are cut off. An ocean to the east
churns in chiaroscuro while unseen
ranges to the south deflect our passage,
what passage might have been.
This country seems the passing of a dream
to a moonscape’s still immitigable white,
a land’s amnesia where against the sky
three needling black birds fly
and slip like an ellipsis out of sight.