David Ruekberg’s poems engage the domestic and natural spheres to encounter the elemental forces that drive us: love, grief, despair and hope. “Dirt and instructions” coalesce and point to answers not given but suggested, offer “somewhere to overnight/before rain, and winter,” promise love as surrender, “and no one asking questions.” Where Is the River Called Pishon? is an irresistible book that asks to be read and read again.
—Pablo Medina, author of The Floating Island (poems) and Cubop City Blues (a novel), and thirteen other works, including an acclaimed translation of Lorca’s Poet in New York.
David Ruekberg’s probing debut collection renders the world for readers, in many senses of the word. His poems distill experience to concrete moments of “magnolia blossom. . .Dutch Catholic schoolgirls. . .traffic’s wreathed whine.” They also present a world in flux. Past and present, creation and destruction coexist: a “half-world below heaven,” where “the species will follow all species…it will die out”; where “The law commands the cells’ bloom/in the body, light’s intercourse with matter, the ions’ banquet/of rust.” Ruekberg marvels at it all, even at questions about the meaning of existence: “History is the ultimate act of faith. Plant an atom in darkness/and you sow a cosmos.” By turns playful and solemn, the poems are generous invitations to consider the origins of life and its inevitable ends, to remember the fact that, at least sometimes, “everything murmurs and winks, as if holy.”
—Tracy Youngblom, author of Growing Big and One Bird a Day