Body Rhymes

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When your eyes flicker across the last line of a particularly satisfying poem, one of two reactions is virtually guaranteed. Either you will instantly go back to the first line and begin rereading it, reveling in the parts that danced in your mind’s eye, or you will sit quietly for a few moments, silently reflecting on the magic left in the poem’s wake.

I’ve always been one to experience the former more so than the latter, and several of Donna Emerson’s pieces in Body Rhymes had me journeying back to the beginning of the piece to again explore the flowing peaks and valleys of language she so deftly employed. The meticulous word choice is often as effective as it is stirring.

From the brutal melange of nostalgia and pain in The Orchard to the honesty and vitriol of The Princess Who Told the Truth, from the aching desire in Close to the Heart of Rose to the unabashed sentimentality of Heath and Audrey, Body Rhymes is unrelenting in its emotional demands on the reader. Your soul will be stirred, whether you wish it or not.

The centerpiece of the chapbook is She Lay Asleep Wearing Oxygen, a multi-sectional examination of a woman’s last moments after a long illness. Taxing in its sincerity, it’s one of the most personal and revealing works I’ve encountered in a long time, and such pellucidity contributes to its impact.

The entire book, in fact, feels like the rise and fall of a regular pulse, an EKG of emotional highs and lows, leading up to and through She Lay Asleep Wearing Oxygen and into the subtle resignation and optimism of Grace Notes. It’s a fitting conclusion to an evocative project.


Reviewed By:

Author Donna L. Emerson
Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 30 pages
Publisher Finishing Line Press
Publish Date 04-Nov-2009
ISBN 9781599244341
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue April 2011
Category Poetry & Short Stories
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