I read a lot of poetry, but rarely review collections here, partly because I tend to dip in and out, rather than sit down and read them cover to cover, and partly because it can be hard for me to characterize a collection of poetry in a way that seems useful or satisfying.
Aside from the word “astounding,” I often find it difficult to explain why something resonated with me, and without a theme or plot, something many collections lack, I’m not sure what else to say.
In the case of this book, though, not only can I apply the word “astounding,” but I can also describe both the collection and why it got to me. The Uses of the Body tells the story of a marriage, from wedding to childbirth, from stumblings to “Borderless, and the open days go on –.”
It’s a short collection, but every line packs a wallop, and that’s despite the fact a good chunk of them involve motherhood, something I have no personal experience with (my grief and her joy collided spectacularly somewhere around page 35; I’m pretty sure the whole neighborhood could feel it).
The rest, however, I know very well: aging, loss, romance ebb and romance flow, ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (RIP, Starman). Astounding is certainly what it is. You may wish to pick this book up. While you’re deciding, I will leave you with this:
One summer there was no girl left in me.
It gradually became clear.
It suddenly became.
In the pool, I was more heavy than light.
Pockmarked and flabby in a floppy hat.
What will my body be
when parked all night in the earth?
Breathe in. Breathe out.
I am not on the oxygen tank.
Twice a week we have sex.
The lithe girls poolside I see them
at their weddings I see them with babies on their hips
thickening I see them middle-aged.
I can’t see past the point where I am.
Like you, I’m just passing through.