Wendy Drexler's Before There Was Before is that rare book that both ranges far, into the worlds of science, nature and art, and moves in close, examining her own particular human experience. Drexler takes us back in time to the Big Bang and projects us 7.5 billion years into the future. She thinks about birds and elephants, flies, beetles, crickets, chameleons. She imagines Monet and C zanne, she listens to Schubert, looks closely at film, sculpture, paintings and photographs. The pressure of time and the consolations of intimacy, which animate these poems, carry over into the more personal poems, threading the wider vision to the tighter one. Relying always on carefully observed and imagined particulars, she parries the pressure of time with an insistence on living attentively. "Let's take a stab / at the dark," she says in the title poem. Let's "time our tea, // if we have tea, / if we have time." Drexler takes her stab at the dark, and we are all the better for it.