cover image The Visible Woman

The Visible Woman

Allison Funk. Parlor, $13.99 trade paper (70p) ISBN 978-1-64317-193-7

The elegant sixth collection from Funk (Wonder Room) contemplates the lives of women under patriarchy through the motif of artistic creation. In “Cells” (after a series of enclosures by the artist Louise Bourgeois), the speaker admits: “Although self almost rhymes/ with cells, I often feel I have/ nothing/ in common with the body/ I’m in.” The treatment of the body is a concern throughout the collection, which investigates memory and grief while speaking on behalf of the physical. In “Against Vanishing,” the collection’s opening poem, she writes: “Afraid she is about to vanish/ I summon her/ rib by rib, scapula, tibia,/ knowing how perfect she is/ inside where she cannot see.” Bourgeois is a muse and spirit guide, appearing repeatedly in poems about formation and womanhood. In “A Ghazal Written After Reading a Notebook Kept by Louise Bourgeois,” each couplet ends with the word thread: “What’s more, she claims, pain is the business she’s in./ To get out of her mess she’ll follow a thread.// It’s an art, she says to the doctor she sees./ How women sew codes into dresses with thread—.” Readers will find that Funk’s sensitive writing on the female experience is sonorous, precise, and often arresting. (Jan.)