cover image Northwood


Maryse Meijer. Black Balloon (PGW, dist.), $18.95 (112p) ISBN 978-1-948226-01-1

Meijer (Heartbreaker) follows an overwhelming affair and its long reach in this evocative work, constructed as a blend of poems and brief, disconnected snippets. An unnamed woman has rented a rural cabin to escape the city and produce art for a year. At a dance, she meets a much older married man and they begin a passionate affair that tips from rough into abusive. The narrator draws on classical mythology and fairy tales to explain her infatuation despite its violence and terror. After her return to the city, she copes with her mother’s cancer treatment and attempts to return to a normal life, including marrying another man. The man from the dance, however, continues to float around the margins of her life, calling her at times of desire and crisis, including after the death of his daughter. The unfinished texture of their affair and the woman’s uncertain processing of her trauma shapes her life without providing a firm conclusion. Passages crackle with breathtakingly fresh images such as the couple erotically tasting her inks, and lines such as “it did not drain the pus from the panic when I heard you leave.” This challenging but beautiful work will compel readers to fit together the pieces of the protagonist’s lingering trauma. (Nov.)