Commandment by Mary Adams
(Spring Street Editions, Sylva, 2009, ISBN 978-0-9712046-2-1).
Review by Rob Neufeld
See also blog entry
by Kathryn Stripling Byer.
Mary Adams, Western Carolina University creative writing professor, has published her second book of poems, titled Commandment
. The chapbook, in twenty-eight pages, displays her prodigious power of world-building.
The poem, “Commandment”--in short, echoing lines-- views the world from the void to the end of times. “When we were lonely,” the poem begins, “Love doubly/ blessed us. Earth/ filled us. Birth/ welled like morning.”
It’s a creation poem, with “we” possibly referring to Adam and Eve.
But then a doe appears and notices the brink of wilderness—the world has been laid waste by “the best of us.” Adams concludes: “It wasn’t just/ never enough love/ that Jesus suffocated of.” Vivid sentences tell stories with puzzlers.Deeply poetic fantasy
“Just treat me like an ordinary dog,” the poem, “Cerberus at the SPCA,” begins. To the tune of Dante’s “Inferno,” the person-as-dog enters Hell. On a literal level, the poet enters an animal shelter.
In “Dog Year,” two lovers create the state of the world through their moods. This poem is hyper-fantasy, so beware of the competition, Stephanie Meyer fans! At one point, a woman relates, “I tried to tame our wild angels.” But her relationship pulls apart, and she witnesses the death of the last angel.
9/11 had hit at the same time as the end of the poet’s relationship with a man. The poet sees a metaphor: “My grief,/ smaller than cataclysm, seemed attached/ by coinciding with it, as a leaf/ spirals slowly to the ground/ while, worlds away, a city spins around/ in a cyclone.” It's as if Marc Chagall put a Van Gogh spin on his world.