small flames is, like its title poem, an arrangement of lambent coals which brighten their hot cores under the breath of the reader’s gaze. Quiet, contained poems flare up with the intensity of peak experience – in moments of childhood, womanhood, birth, death and the infinite in a cormorant’s flight or Chaucer’s tomb. Dina E. Cox has the extraordinary gift of having begun to write seriously only after her children had grown, and yet writing as though she were in her twenties – youthful energy, enthusiasm and passion seasoned already with mature wisdom. small flames is a story of beginnings, endings, and of new beginnings. While small flames has not a single stand-alone haiku in it, the poet is schooled in the form and has published haiku as far away as Bulgaria. Even in the extended pieces, there’s hardly a formally Japanese poem here, but each, stanza by stanza in the longer ones, enacts the grace, precision and poignancies of highly disciplined verse. In the title poem, a sun-warmed field of lupins / burns as brightly, peppering / the transparent air with pungent /colour … In “The Gift,” where she’s present at the hospital when her father receives a diagnosis of the cancer which will end his life, After the doctor leaves / I search for something / concrete to hold onto: / in silence I soap each / of my father’s leathered soles, / awed by the intimacy / of fingers and toes, / and by his acceptance / of this macabre dance. These are the poems of a woman who has known in her life most things we all know, but has seen further than many of us are given to see.