Univ. of Wisconsin. Mar. 2024. 88p. ISBN 9780299347147. pap. $16.95. POETRY
In her newest volume of poems, Coutley (tether) explores the definition of the word “host,” which can mean “a multitude,” which can be the thing from which a parasite feeds, which can signify a gathering. For Coutley, it’s a vehicle to define trauma. She brings lost mothers into the fray, the losses of motherhood, women’s fears of men, and violence perpetuated by men, knowing she is the mother of two sons. “One man/ leaves his drink at the bar & never/ wonders when he comes back if// someone drugged him….” Juxtaposed against the destruction of the earth, these are difficult yet satisfying poems. “We/ are the disease,” she writes, mourning the heaps of trash collected from the curb. Sunflowers are used as a metaphor for growth, for protection, as objects of memory. “My tallest sunflowers are/ telling me it’s finally time to let them/ go,… though I’m so afraid to say goodbye/ to the walls they’ve grown around me.”
VERDICT A stunning collection of poems, worth reading again and again.
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