Look Look Look, by Callista Buchen

Sunday December 29, 2019

This short book of prose poems is an intensely personal, frequently painful look at the author's experiences of motherhood. I'm no expert in poetry, but it seems like a success.

There are five untitled parts, the first three of which correspond to periods around the birth of a first child, then the loss before birth of a child, and then the birth of a second child. The last two parts might be less obviously demarcated subsequent periods or aspects. None of the parts seem to have been particularly easy for the author.

One short sentence, "We do the research," stuck out to me as emblematic of the modern experience of educated people approaching the enigmatic corporeal realities of fertility.

The author and her husband and I were high school classmates, which adds something. Reading the poem "Sadness" on page 49, there's the abstract author, there are the people I went to school with, and there's the recasting with my family and others. It's also interesting to see the language change, becoming more direct, at the beginning of the third part—a deliberate device, or the unconscious development of the author over time?

It's like reading a diary, but everyone has been invited to look, look, look.