This is how the witness ends: touch, withdraw; touch again. 'American Goshawk', the opening poem in this collection, concludes with these words. The word 'witness' comes with a wealth of meanings. The poems are, at one level, acute observations of the world in its physical and dramatic detail. But eye and ear detect, in what is there, shadows and figures of what is beyond, what imparts to the things perceived their deeper form, significance and beauty. Such seeing is a craft, a form of translation that engages not just the surface but the essence of what is seen, what the poet calls 'eye-proofs of the epiphenomenal world'. The ophthalmologist in 'A Mystic's Guide to Arches' keeps asking, 'Can you see this?' And we can, seeing it more fully each time we re-read the poem and the separate things configure into a single, powerful seeing. Language obscures - until it releases what it names to the senses. The Earliest Witnesses is G.C. Waldrep's British debut.