Permeable Divide provides Ellen Rachlin's fourth volume of poetry and blends it with a philosophical observational style that is elegant in expression and rich in description and psychological insight. Take, for one example, the unexpected depth of 'Families': "Those slack wire acts that balance/by focusing near, love the sloped wire./First, there are the shakes of contorting bodies/then the hold while they juggle troubled kin/in each outstretched hand."
Readers are invited to reflect on various incarnations of what Rachlin describes as the "permeable divide", which consists of the gap between the living and a loved one lost to death, the rift between art and business, or the breaks that limit freedom and result in revolutions that may based be as much experiences of the past as the present.
Each poem is so different that this collection requires slow, careful, contemplative thought before realization sets in that each poem is actually interconnected, in a much broader sense. 'Divide', for example, also explores change, loss, and being lost in a different sense than 'Families' offered - yet, in a familiar way: "There is nothing to change/if you fit in/but that's the catch./To go from shore to mountaintop/you must adjust./The mind won't let go."
Permeable Divide captures confrontations with self, evolving efforts to change and grow, and how gaps are bridged or widened between life, death, and daily affairs in a succinct yet absorbing collection of images and ideas that requires slow, thoughtful reading from free verse fans and rewards these efforts with rich insights that linger in the mind long after the last poem is read.