This Imagined Permanence
'What if …?' is one of the constant themes in human life – all the choices not made, things not done, lives not lived. In This Imagined Permanence, Stephens's second collection of poetry, she traces the reflections of a lesbian preoccupied by the what-ifs of existence. Poet and voyeur, philosopher and recluse, the narrator contemplates the passions and desires of women who exist as she herself cannot. Burdened by her decision to lead a life in the margins, she attempts to make other women's lives her own. A haunting investigation of the universal difficulty of reaching out, entering forbidden territory, living in a precarious world – and a magnificent sequel to hivernale, Stephens's first book of poems.