Marianna’s Beauty Salon

Bushra Rehman. Sibling Rivalry, $14.95 trade paper (72p) ISBN 978-1-943977-48-2
In Rehman’s debut collection, indelible truths permeate slice-of-life recollections and blustery fantasies of desire. Alienation and intimacy, a sensation of stasis, and the comforts of a Queens immigrant household all mark the speaker’s physical and emotional universe. Rehman sardonically illuminates social shifts, such as the tensions of a world kept at bay by a “white picket fence, no, try chain link.” There is also romance, as the speaker imagines her and her lover’s skeletons in a museum: “Will they ever know/ this flesh answered the other/ that my fingers traveled all over/ the empty space around your bones.” At the collection’s core are notions of home, which Rehman redefines in a variety of ways, most cleverly as a backpack, the “thing that’s taught you the lesson/ of what was essential and what was not.” Rehman’s lively evocations of her world illustrate the spellbinding potential of an environment of decay: “There are sofa beds growing/ everywhere in Corona/ on street corners, in yards// Yellow, bright orange, brown/ they burst out of the ground/ mushrooms come full-blown/ in the middle of the night.” Rehman’s poems evolve as the collection progresses, beginning with minimalism and near-passivity before blossoming into deeply felt expressions. This is a rich collection of gratitude, nostalgia, and fidelity to lived experience. (May)
Reviewed on: 09/03/2018
Release date: 05/01/2018
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