cover image In Vitro: On Longing and Transformation

In Vitro: On Longing and Transformation

Isabel Zapata, trans. from the Spanish by Robin Myers. Coffee House, $16.95 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-56689-675-7

This lyrical meditation by Mexican poet Zapata (Empty Pool) reflects on the life-changing power of pregnancy and motherhood. “I want to shatter the vow of silence that isolates the painful parts of motherhood,” she writes, recounting in a series of brief dispatches what it felt like to undergo in vitro fertilization treatments. Zapata opines on the physical and psychological changes she underwent after becoming pregnant, describing motherhood as a process of self-annihilation and self-discovery during which she forged a new identity around her unborn baby (“I want to have a child so I can be made invisible”). Vignettes about caring for her sick dog and her relationship with her husband are peppered throughout, but the ruminations on Zapata’s mother are the most affecting, as when the author likens the grief she felt after her mother died to the emotional turmoil of giving birth: “Being an orphan and having a child are similar in the certainty that you will be vulnerable forever.” With poetic prose, sensitively translated by Myers, Zapata’s sometimes surprising perspective offers a fresh take on the pregnancy memoir. Elegant and sharp, this is worth seeking out. (May)