I devoured the book in one sitting. I woke up, and I reread it, revisiting some poems that spoke to my soul. It’s an emotional, intimate collection of poems covering several diverse topics, including the death of a loved one, being in love, suicide, racism, loneliness. The book is divided into chapters. It feels like the poet is holding our hand, inviting us on a journey with her, allowing us to discover different chapters of her life.

There were so many poems I loved in this collection. To name a few: ” I love You”, “Widow”,
” Oubliette”, “Vessel”, ” Poison-Drunk”, “Fists”, ” Cabin”, “Subterfuge”, “Used to”, “History”, “Weekend”, “Ebb”, “Mouth”, “Crow’s Feet”, “Romance”, “Song”, Leap Day”, “Fall”, “Ink”, “Unfamiliar”, “Mon Pays”, “Milk”, “Pacific”, “Fog”, “Dead Boys”, “Conductor”.

The poems that I identified a lot with were the ones talking about problematic romantic relationships, relationships where emotions of sadness were the norm, relationships where darkness prevailed, relationships that leave a deep mark on the soul, a mark that you struggle to get rid of ( ” Mouth”: I reach/into the back/of my mouth/ to pull pieces of you/out).
This kind of love tricks you, inviting you in with the promise of passion, emptying your soul, poisoning you ( Fall: ” Once you were air/then you were cinders/that I spat up now/and then),
and scattering your pieces in the ocean ( Pacific: ” When you swim with her ashes in the Pacific/ her kiss tucks you back/ into the swirling ruckus/she left behind”).
You struggle to break free but the scars are there ( Crow’s feet: “Inked on my face/are shadows that you left/behind, imprints/ of your lovers’ hands ) and you have to constantly fight to break free, to breathe again ( Fall: ” …to pull pieces of you/ out. But they stick/ so I choke and fumble), to not end up living for him, disappearing into nothingness ( History: ” Look at me/on his bed/History/ will not untie me/His story, always his/story. Someone’s his/ story).

The poem “Oubliette” sounds like a dark fairy tale, the image of a trapped man, waiting for the reward of his patience: his love to be reciprocated. This never happens. When the woman decides she is ready to give back, he has disappeared.

p. 104
” She put him in the oubliette and locked it…. Finally she came, to collect his love, but he had turned to dust”

The poem “Poison-Drunk” describes how deeply the scars of betrayal hurt and how difficult it is to trust other people and yourself

p. 100
” You say,
Believe me it won’t hurt
I never believe you.
I sit up awaiting

In the poem “Unfamiliar” the writer wonders how her parents managed to grow roots in a foreign place. She wishes she had asked them to share with her this wisdom, this inner strength she needs to feel connected to this land.

p. 45 ” I wish I has asked.
Tell me about my skin…
How did my father learn to put his feet down
on unfamiliar soil?
My mother’s steps
had a ring to them of certainty. She knew.
I did not”

I would recommend this hauntingly beautiful collection of poems by Jennifer Hosein to everyone.