Sat Jul 12 11:11:32 2014 - permalink -
Vena Amoris | Escape Into Life
Her Vena Amoris book coverHer Vena Amoris by Carol Berg
Red Bird Chapbooks, 2013
Review by Kathleen Kirk, Poetry Editor
Carol Berg’s newest chapbook, Her Vena Amoris, goes after all the yearning, resentment, risk, confusion, frustration, and powerful love it takes to be a woman and a wife. Its organization lays it out for us beautifully: Part I contains all Woman poems, Part II is a single poem, “To the Word Wife,” and Part III is all Wife poems. The “word” poem is a good bridge, or, to use a central image from the book, a crucial vein, carrying life’s blood between sections—blue blood that turns red exposed to air!
One of my favorite poems in this book, an exciting and dangerous poem, is “The Wife in Desiring Another.” It begins:
Everything about you hurts my vena amoris,
vein running from my ring finger to my heart.
You see the moral dilemma there, feel the pulsing passion. Here is the book’s title, defined. There’s rippling life all through this short poem. “The silver fish / in your hands are nibbling the coral edges of my resistance.” Next, the “coral edges” seem to transform into fabric:
I have locked down the wet hem of my skirt
yet still I feel you tugging the fragile cotton threads.
Held inside my ribcage, your name shatters my breath.
I’m interested in the shifts of point of view in these poems. Sometimes Woman or Wife is a “she.” Sometimes, an “I.” Is it all part of an identity balancing act? In the book’s title, it is “her vena amoris.” In the poem, it is “my vena amoris.” Even the moon, as a woman symbol, shifts into the conditional: “The moon would taste of moral dilemmas and chicken broth.”