From end of life to hope in life, O’Melveny’s collection (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions, 2019) explores the hardships and loss of one generation to the hopes placed in another. At the core, the speaker dealing with the loss of a long-absent father, the death of a mother, the buoyancy in her relationship with her own husband and daughter.
“Grazia’s Teeth” explores a grandmother’s handling of a child’s baby teeth collected and hammered into the grooved wood of a door, likened to “tiny shells, / pearl mushrooms in gray wood, / or half-moons that rise…” In the end, the speaker reflects how her own daughter “…still has teeth / to lose and lives by magic.”
This cyclical, lyrical read will, at times, leave you breathless. From her poem, “Three breaths”
one breath to take
the measure of things
and one breath to carry
down into the yielding
lungs of the sea – a bell
of breath, a lantern of air.
It leaves me to contemplate not only the magic we encounter when brushing up against the wild of the natural world, but the magic we carry within.