Dragonfly and Other Songs of Mourning by Michelle Scalise
Lycan Valley Press (May 2019)
56 pages; $15 hardcover; $8.50 paperback
Reviewed by Anton Cancre
Death may be our most common denominator, but loss is the thing that really connects all of us. While we all die eventually, we don’t usually have much to say about the experience afterwords. But, when someone we care about passes into the dense fog of whatever it is that follows, all of us are left dealing with the absence. That coping is what Dragonfly is about.
If you’ve read Michelle’s previous poetry collection, The Manufacture of Sorrow, you know what she is about. Deceptively simple, unassumingly approachable poems that cut right to the heart. Her work washes over the eyes easily, but holds enough depth to bear continual re-visitation. But, calling it fun would be a lie. This is a woman whose work dwells firmly in the all-too-personal horrors of existence, after all. This collection shows her wielding the same weaponry, honed to a much more dangerous edge.
Don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking that these poems are just about wallowing in grief or using it as a weapon, though. They are about more than that. They stand as a monument to pain that seems inescapable, that feels too much to survive, presented by a heart still stealing beats wherever it can. The mere existence of this work proves the ability to continue on without denigrating the power and value of the grief itself.
It’s a thing we all need reminding of, from time to time.