By Linda Elisabeth Beattie, Special to The Courier-Journal, February 28, 2009Seed Across Snow, a lush collection of intelligent, elegant and very wise verse, is Louisvillian Kathleen Driskell's stunning second book. Her first book, Laughing Sickness, sealed the associate program director of Spalding University's brief-residencyMaster of Fine Arts in Writing Program's reputation as a remarkable poet. Seed Across Snow is more striking still.Readers plunge into Driskell's poetry withassurance because her voice is so accessible, hersubjects so familiar. "Forgive" concerns a womanwhose focus shifts as her son gets his hair cut.She writes, "Short, really short, I said, but Iwas in fact, not thinking/ of him, waslooking out the wide windows, the trafficpassing."When the mother finally turns to her son shegasps "at the swath shorn, the wide path of stubble across/ the back of his head. His scalpwas like a plucked/ ridiculous bird, a prisoner-of-war, vulnerable/ His crime? To have amother whose head could be turned/ from him so easily."Driskell's stanzas reflect the rectitude of such prosaic scenes. She writes, "And in that broad mirror, thatmagnifying glass, his eyes/ trapped mine — were the unforgiving and blistering sun,/ and Ibegan to feel the smoke rise inside me,/ the smoldering ruin that my carelessness cost,/ andhis furious attempt to turn this poem to cinders."The poet's voice is a pitch-perfect blend of humor and angst, reason and resolve. Instead of preaching to herreaders, she invites them to re-examine the evidence of experience. Her revelations are as precise as they are profound.Driskell's powerful diction also transcends grief with tensile grace. In "Overture" she links memories ofclassmates' fatalities with the near death of a neighbor, the demise of a beloved dog and a great-grandfather'ssuicide. It's a tightly written poem with orchestral range; its cadence is the urgent surge of life chased and chastened by mortality.Late in the poem the narrator listens as her daughter sleepwalks. "She moved like a child who knew things, and I knew / I had walked that same way and so I watched her and wondered / who had told her these things and when, when / had I not been around? When? When I was her age, I lay / on the flowered davenport at my grandmother's home / and she told me things no child should know: women were beaten so that their faces / held the purple blooms of late roses, men drank themselves / to tears, so that they were not men to the women / who lived with them, aunties drank lye then, and it was all about shame, as it always is, but also about living story. / I recall that now and I recall everything for what do we have / but the past to parent us?"Such achingly beautiful lines about in Seed Across Snow. It's a lovely book to read this late winter as our region rotates toward the light and we reappraise the shape of our world.