cover image Black Blossoms

Black Blossoms

Rigoberto Gonzalez. Four Way (UPNE, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (72p) ISBN 978-1-935536-15-4

The poems in Gonzalez’s third collection are rooted in the female body. Death and decay also thread through the collection, manifesting in lush and sensuous imagery. In the title poem, Gonzalez addresses barren women in dark, graphic language that borders on the grotesque: “when the sun sets next it will// blossom with the blackest mushrooms and the moths/ will lay their eggs on your leathery smiles.” Gonzalez’s poems depict the body as a space that carries burden and loss, the site of a fleeting life: “this is the part where the woman enters./ This is the part where she leaves. Her life/ so quick it could have been missed had she left no evidence of the blackbird to construct/ its nest.” Each of us is insignificant and replaceable, Gonzalez seems to say: “borrowed body, in the time you must vacate,// let another take your space./ Don’t worry about whom or when since the girl/ who comes after is already here.” The last section (of four) is told through the voices of the female characters surrounding a mortician. Lust and marriage, birth and death, weave together in their observations and confessions. The mortician’s wife observes, “sound is death because it’s/ irretrievable and every time I speak I die a little more.” (Oct.)