The Abduction
by Maram Al-Masri, Hélène Cardona (Translator)
White Pine Press

"He has begun to speak to me
with his eight tiny teeth."

Opening with poems celebrating the wonder of new life, this collection explores birth, development, motherhood, and the terrifying experience of losing one’s child to an act of abduction. In this book, an empty house becomes a metaphor for a woman longing for her child: “A house like mine / may be hiding wounds / may be hiding stories.” These verses also explore the speaker’s harrowing emotional journey as she navigatse the present and potential future without her son. Additionally, the book provides readers with philosophical takes on what it truly means to love another person: “To love, it is to prepare yourself / to be abandoned.” At the same time, the speaker also questions why humans must love the way they do, given that the experience can transform into something utterly terrifying and painful.

These poems rely on minimalist forms and language to create a significantly deep message about what it is to lose the one person who shapes another person’s existence. The evocative images and emotions displayed in this book leave readers feeling the speaker’s pain and heartbreak. The collection also addresses socio-political issues like immigration, and it gives anecdotes that give readers a first-hand glimpse into the sense of otherness with which many immigrants live in their new homelands: “Immigrant / you will always be / in the crosshairs of suspicion.” These anecdotes speak loudly in an America rife with political tensions surrounding the issue. Thus, the collection transforms from a personal exploration of loss and grief into a larger conversation about one’s role in a new society. Poetry lovers who appreciate poems with a deeply personal yet socially conscious message will appreciate this book.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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