The two searching sequences that bookend this collection are not so much elegies as unfinished conversations with friends no longer living — friendships lost or neglected, with their closeness and distances sensitively mapped. This is Philip Gross’s writing at its most hospitable, lit up by a sense of personal address, both tactful and deeply engaged. The sea that is always in sight, between us and beyond us, is more than a metaphor. It is another conversation — with the real sea of this planet, used and abused and in need of our care. Between the Islands is Philip Gross’s 26th book of poetry, and his 11th from Bloodaxe.