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sky, lotus, dust: poems of Rachel Carson


Molly Kugel’s sky, lotus, dust shows how one woman’s life can resonate, a single voice shaping social perceptions. Kugel distills the life of Rachel Carson into poems that contrast the quiet beauty “of chitinous shell, of wharf piling, of dark pools” with the mundane menace of “housewives buying aerosol bombs in department stores.”  Each word is carefully crafted, an intricate weaving of imagery and Scottish mysticism that evokes the wonder of our natural world that should not be taken for granted. 

--Katherine Sánchez Espano, author of The Sky's Dustbin


Reading Molly Kugel’s remarkable sky, lotus, dust is like encountering a vibrant tidal pool that invites us to feel and observe. Surrounded by lavender mussels, pink sponge lace, wet granite, barnacles, and seawater, the part of ourselves that is connected to a collective is conjured up—and we are transfigured.  Interweaving biographical details of Rachel Carson’s life with Scottish Gaelic spells, prayers, and charms, Kugel creates an enchanting and powerful window into Carson’s world and pushes back against language that male critics assigned to Carson’s work during her lifetime  This collection teaches us about Carson’s struggles with cancer, and we witness her pressing on with her work late in life, “the way the snails / could steal away in the crevices of rock.”  Like the snail in this radiant collection’s final poem, this book is “a holding fast,” and a testament to survival.

--Madeleine Barnes, author of You Do Not Have to Be Good

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