The title poem, which for Anthony Hecht is "a truly great success in its knitting together of the modern scene, recent history, and Homeric myth," finds a wizened Penelope hawking embroidery to tourists. Another recalls the death of Marilyn Monroe--how it awakened the sexual consciousness of a boy for whom her spirit became the scent of cured tobacco. An odyssey whose settings range from the Carolinas to Crete, from the Romsdal Fjord to the Buffalo River, Penelope's Design also pays homage to such geniuses of place as Thomas Hardy and A. E. Housman, in whose Shropshire a 50-year-old literary pilgrim meets his own lightfoot ghost. Often elegiac, these richly allusive poems smile at the diminishing returns of aging and capture glimmers of a numinous Otherwhere.
"The memories of ‘a dream-disheveled child’ in the Deep South unfold into the meditative travels of the literary man in these elegant, assured poems, riddled with starlight, richly enlivened with deep-dyed images of nature and art, and a meticulous ear for echoes both allusive and actual, in a language as sensual as it is referential."--Eleanor Wilner, author of Reversing the Spell and The Girl with Bees in Her Hair