The Threshold of Light

By Michael S. Glaser. Bright Hill Press. 2019. 54 pages. $10/paperback.

This chapbook, beautifully manufactured by Bright Hill Press, is a good way to encounter an alert, sensitive, wry, and grateful voice. Michael Glaser, who was Maryland’s state Poet Laureate from 2004 to 2009, captures and shares encounters with light of many kinds. Mornings are tender times, as we arise from the defenseless world of sleep and cross the threshold into day. For example, his wife, returning from her “Morning Walk,” recounts:

how the sun foretold its arrival
turning the sky mauve and pink,

before cresting orange and then,
as though giving birth to itself,

rose crimson out of the ocean—

The light illumines things both intimate and alien. A picture of an informal, contemplative haven in time begins:

As I read Zen in the morning
my young daughter leaves her bed
and lies next to me on the sofa
where sunlight angles through the window.

Yet this is the same world in which the poet, in “Road Kill,” encounters, “Driving to work, road kill, in a furry hump / and large black carrion eaters, feasting.”

The poems are set at home, along the shore, on the Isle of Arran, in Venice; wherever the poet happens to be, he brings his alertness with him, his willingness to look in love and honesty at what he encounters, and his modesty in these first-person poems. We get to know his voice, but he is not the subject; he is an ambassador between us and the world of light, shadow, and surprise that he encounters.

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