Pamela Alexander's poetry is characterized by inventive language, scrupulous accuracy of imagery, and a winning fusion of the comic and the deeply serious. Her subjects vary as widely as her settings, which range from the New Hampshire woods to the Arizona desert. A family life eccentric to the point of chaos, close observations of wildlife, and coastal sailing are among the poet's topics. Despite this variety, Inland has an emerging organization that suggests a kind of plot. The family is left behind in the way that families of origin always are, revealed fully only in perspective. The longest poem here, "Swallowing the Anchor" (the title is the sailors' term for giving up the sea), is also the most directly personal. It closes the section of the book in which the poet comes to terms with losses, including the death of a loved one. She does this with grace - and her wit is not jokes, her poignancy is not sentimentality.