The narrators in THE ANIMAL AT YOUR SIDE scavenge for clues, trying to stitch together a life in the midst of unrootedness. Finding bones, talismans, and half-heard voices that portal back to both personal and collective history, the speakers are haunted by diaspora, family estrangement, intergenerational trauma, and resilience. What are the costs of being far away from a homeplace? What are the costs of returning? And when the costs are too high on both sides, how do you choose? Grieving the loss of family of origin, and longing to return, the narrators forge new shapes, grounded in a connection to the natural world, ultimately making a home in their own unsettled natures.
These poems play with form and structure, ranging from tightly-wound lyrics to detailed reportage. Alpert uses white space and invents forms as needed, creating sunken stanzas and a poem shaped like a rib cage. By turns gritty, frank, and devotional, THE ANIMAL AT YOUR SIDE finds things to be treasured in weirdness, queerness, the ecstatic, and the erotic. It is a book for anyone who has ever been lost, who has waited for what seemed like too long “for the voices/to filter back.”