Most of us have been hijacked by loss or waylaid by grief at some point or another. We have lost someone we love. We have needed to give up some dream. We have failed at some goal. In our relentlessly active, entertainment-driven American society, we often shoulder our grief alone.

In her first collection of poetry, Catherine Abbey Hodges makes it clear that she too knows the deep ache of loss. Like William Blake in his Songs of Experience, Hodges could say plenty about the adult world of repression and defeat. Instead, she pits against grief such a sensible beauty that the book finally releases her—and, as we read, us—from the grip of sorrow. Hodges’s poetry bears witness to the possibility of joy after despair.

In “Everything Important” she tells us: “Friends up and leave / their sturdy bodies. The stonechat takes flight. / A son learns to whistle. A daughter finds / the greatest common factor, then falls / in love. One morning the leaves / are off the elm and halfway down the block.” There is nothing she, or any of us, can do to stop our dearest people and things from fading, dying, moving on, leaving us. She—and we, her readers—stand waving goodbye, stunned, grief-stricken. And yet, when Hodges turns, she glimpses “the secret alley of camellias” bathed in an “impossible . . . brightness.”