Literary excision

Memory of the Future book cover

"As one grows older/ there should be fewer/ and fewer words to say," Elizabeth Spires writes in "The Sound of the Sea at the Shore," one of the 36 poems in her new collection, A Memory of the Future (Norton). Spires, A&S '79 (MA), isn't lacking things to say in her seventh collection, though there are a number of instances where she uses words with such sparing potency, a veteran surgeon who knows how to make the smallest incision to get to what she's after. Mortality and the ghost of Elizabeth Bishop haunt a few poems in Future—"Island Graveyard," "I," "Magicicada"—while some of her most disarming moments come when she considers the ways somebody's future memories reanimate us after we're gone.