The Magpie and the Child

Catriona Clutterbuck. Wake Forest Univ., $13.95 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-930630-95-6
Irish poet Clutterbuck’s debut is a tender, haunting portrait of grief, magnificently crafted out of unimaginable loss. The first half features scenes from the Irish countryside relayed with stunning lyricism: “bird flick against light/ louvring open the sky// and deepest green/ eight at evening/ where the long grass/ stands uncombed.” Interspersed with this sparkling imagery are scenes from the poet’s earlier life, reflections on time, and references to the challenge of maintaining religious faith in the face of tragedy. There are also poems about a miscarriage and a second pregnancy, the hushed waiting for a new life to begin (“I crouch in the house of my coming child, the webs of this cocoon life in my mouth”). The book’s second half deals more directly with Clutterbuck’s grief through a long poem titled “Thre-nodies for Emily,” featuring the poet’s thoughts and experiences after the death of her 10-year-old daughter from an undiagnosed heart condition. She captures the bewilderment that often accompanies death: “and still the traffic comes, morning sits on every surface,/ a crow calls, cutlery rattles in the kitchen/ and a keyboard begins to patter-jab.” Emptiness suffuses this poem as a physical presence, but so does an inspiring, dogged perseverance to carry on. This impactful work captures the grieving process with artful clarity. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 02/10/2021
Release date: 03/01/2021
Genre: Poetry
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