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She Wore Emerald Then
Reflections on Motherhood

by Magdalena Ball†and Carolyn Howard-Johnson
with photos by May Lattanzio

      Magdalena Ball and Carolyn Howard-Johnson (with photos by May Lattanzio) have joined forces to produce an intriguing look at mothers and motherhood in She Wore Emerald Then.††The book is divided into two sections, with Ballís section entitled "The Genetic Code" and Howard-Johnsonís entitled "Dandelions in Autumn."† Each author presents fifteen poems.

In the poem "The Genetic Code" Ball tells the listener (a new baby) that its name was shouted from the seabed billions of years ago, and all the stunning things that go into making a life culminated in his one changing everything, sloppy, sleepy, spontaneous perfect.

Howard-Johnsonís "Dandelions in Autumn" offers a more common scene as the child holds the dandelions under the motherís chin to see if they will light her throat and thus delight the child.† We sense the satisfaction of both mother and child with such a simple yet extraordinary act.

A vivid image is found in Ballís poem "Whorl."† "He comes out crying / no need for a smack / eyes wide / fighting the light and shocks / slippery, red and incredibly solid.†† Not all poems vaunt the birth of children.† Ballís poem "Motherís Bed" depicts a dying mother who has had a troubled life at a stage in her life "where you are always welcome / nothing matters / except this peace / this place / containing every possible now."

In a similar vein Howard Johnsonís poem "Mother and Daughter—The Things I Learned from Depends and Other Events" paints a picture of what it was like to take care of her aging mother.† "I am tired as I was in my twenties trailing after toddlers.† Mine the job of mothering again."

This collection of poems offers some traditional scenes of mother / daughter relationships and others that are different and intriguing.

The Book

July 20, 2008
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The Reviewer

Willie Elliott
Reviewed 2009
© 2009