Good Bones: Poems

Maggie Smith. Tupelo, $16.95 trade paper (114p) ISBN 978-1-946482-01-3
In this collection titled for a poem that became an unlikely viral sensation, Smith follows The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison by exploring the sensorium mothers and children share in a place where “deer still find their way to the backyard.” Suburban as it may be, strangeness and terror manifest in this setting, while surreal sound and color imbue the ordinary with surprising affect, as in the “glitter-black overlap of shingles” or “lit/ windows painting yellow Rothkos on the water.” The collection features many meditations—on past and future, life and death—but the ones that stand out revolve around motherhood, particularly the magic and trauma of motherhood and motherlessness. Smith considers, from a personal perspective, the violence of Caesarean section (“Twice/ they cut babies from my body”) and miscarriage (“you who have me/ in common—not-mother, mother// you weren’t to have”). She elevates motherhood to something akin to an aesthetic or theology. “The mother is glass through which/ you see, in excruciating detail, yourself,” she writes. For mothers and non-mothers alike, Smith shares one possible orientation to the world whose rottenness she catalogues along with all that makes it, in her view, still worth loving: “Let me love the world like a mother./ Let me be tender when it lets me down.” (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/2017
Release date: 10/01/2017
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