Reading Kathleen Rooney's "Where Are the Snows" is much like walking into an echo chamber from which you emerge enlightened, amused and shaken. In each poem, sounds, ideas and positions rise, repeat and mutate, as in this line from a poem on outer space: "Black hole as home for the Holy Ghost? Holey ghost. Wholly ghost."

Beckett-y puns and reflections finally merge and unify to show, elegantly, the complexity of the common idea they are addressing. Many of the poems explore single concepts, like light, or the moon, or demons, through a series of inspiringly bold statements and observations that bounce off each other and propel themselves forward in ways that can be, at the book's highest moments, freeing.

Rooney seems to be by turns confiding in the reader, delivering an engaging lecture and performing a rangy monologue in which each new prose stanza and, subsequently, each poem, becomes part of a composite portrait of a life spent in intense awareness, as if dispensed by someone pacing on a stage and stopping regularly to launch a brilliant statement into the darkness.

Many of these stanzas could also, though, function as their own wired, self-contained poems, at times intensely musical; a line like "Some women you pass at a fairly vast distance are at least as lovely as B movie actresses" might seem to rattle along a bit until you hear the gorgeous rhythms in it, as might "The deer here seem to hold the dead very dear, grazing near headstones to leave the carvings clear."

What is evident in the book's numerous near-aphoristic sections is also a sense of simultaneous settlement and unease: clarity about what is observed, discomfort with what has been seen. And a lot is observed, indeed. The book recalls the Library of Babel in its feeling of addressing everything even as it knows it can't: Trump, sex, the sky, snow, medieval scholars, Foucault, despair. It's all here.

The voice that leads us through this sea of reference can be sarcastic, as when it tosses out that "Meaningless suffering is the aim of Satan / Guess we'd better find some meaning" but is ultimately characterized by longing, perhaps for a world and a reality that was not so disparate. As Rooney says near the book's end, "It's possible to light a candle and curse the darkness."

You are drawn to this book by the curses, the simultaneous irascibility and wonderment — but you stay for the candle, or the possibility that in a universe that is often hard to bring to lucidity, there might be some chance for individual grace.

Max Winter is a co-editor of the press Solid Objects and the author of "The Pictures" and "Walking Among Them."

Where Are the Snows

By: Kathleen Rooney.

Publisher: Texas Review Press, 73 pages, $21.95.