A Poet Who Mesmerizes by Zigs and Zags

David Orr at The New York Times:

To write as an ironist, especially today, is to risk that the reader loses patience with hedging, backtracking, spirals of cleverness. But sometimes the layers of the onion ensure the purity of the tears. “That Was Now, This Is Then” is anchored by “Collins Ferry Landing,” an elegy for the poet’s father. Its middle section, in prose, begins by addressing Seshadri’s father in the self-amused voice that is typical for this writer: “I have a friend. (You’ll be glad to know.) She and I work together. (You’ll be glad to know I still have a job.) She’s an ally. She’s sympathetic.” But it turns out that this sympathetic ally has done something terrible. The poet had been speaking about his loss (“I was telling her about you”) and then shied away from it into a galaxy of other subjects (“I was describing cultures of shame evolving across millennia; economies of scarcity versus economies of surplus. … Deep India, strewn with elephants and cobras”). And then the woman does this: “She put her right hand on my left arm and said, ‘He’ll always be with you. In your heart.’”

more here.