This review is taken from Stand 222, 17(2) May - June 2019.

Rachel Bower, Moon Milk (Valley Press, 2018)
Steven Matthews, On Magnetism (Two Rivers Press, 2017)

Rachel Bower’s latest collection Moon Milk is conditioned by the morphing, bulging, and oozing of motherhood. Dependency works in cycles in these poems; as moon takes light from the sun, mother takes light from her child, in turn reasserting her transformed presence. In ‘Waiting’ the speaker is doing just that:

I scrutinise my nipples for sap
but I’m not even sure where to look,
listen carefully but hear nothing I know.

Milk for her own child, and in its vast, lunar associations, causes disorientation. Its absence overwhelms the speaker, signalling its demanding presence by telling that mother is milk and milk is mother. The child appears in ‘New Beginnings’:

We are starting again
the wrinkly belly and me,
learning how to walk again, even how to talk
to strangers without
the shield of peach cheeks.

The ‘belly and me’ is recognised both together and apart, as Bower’s conception of life gives a refreshing perspective on embodiment. For her the body is both singular and multiple, able to repeat actions it knows well ‘again’ in new ways, stretching and reaching within its own form. Bower’s mother is born again in tandem with her child, both revoking their vow of silence by breaking the parental rule, and learning ‘how to talk  to strangers’.  

Throughout these poems, breaking and bending are part ...
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