Review of Injuring Eternity by Millicent Borges Accardi
In a recent interview with Susan Rogers, Millicent Borges Accardi said that recovery, to her, was: “a healing from a place of artificiality to a place of real. Recovery is a process of peeling back the layers to get to ‘self’ … to not be in recovery is to deny life, to cover up and bear false witness to your own being.” I found this quote especially interesting when reading from her current collection of poetry, Injuring Eternity (Mischievous Muse Press/World Nouveau Company, 2010). The very idea of moving from a place of artificiality to a place of real and of peeling back the layers to expose what is truly underneath could not more define this collection.
The voice that comes through these poems is grounded in seeking the truth. From her poem, Birth, which is featured in the current issue of r.kv.r.y. To the final element in the collection, Victory, exploring “A life, filled with inventions / And flying and space travel/and gadgets and, yes, even / Something called the twenty first century.” (p91). These poems seek not merely truth but to uncover hidden layers that go beyond mere appearance and into the sinew of what makes us all real. Birth has a narrator whose voice is clear and distinct, and who, from the opening line, submerges us into multi faceted /images far below the surface of things:
“Not wanting to disturb the marriage,
my parents, or you: I entered backwards,
doors through. The hallway strains
with my struggles: thick blooded pores enclose
my shoulders. If I can make it to the safety
of our bed without the angry walls screaming:
“Guilty, Jezebel, guilty, ”
then I will be able to breathe.” (p13).
The emotion portrayed in this opening stanza of Birth is one of the reasons I’ve become such a fan of Ms. Accardi’s work. She immediately hands the reader open, already excavated layers and bids us to fall even further into the poem. The poem then continues to do exactly that; to open layers, dare us to go further, explore just a little more; and the further we go, the more there is to find.
The poems in Injuring Eternity run a full range of topics, emotions and observations. The haunting, Sewing the Black, gives way to the intriguing Lady Night and The Last Letter to my Mother, where an every day event plunges us into the depths as if diving into ten-foot pool. The range of these poems will have something for every reader. But more than that, these poems speak so much to what our lives are made of: the sexual, the poignant, defeat, grief, happiness and sensuality. Accardi interconnects all of these paths of life into an interestingly woven tapestry: happiness holds no more weight than grief; finding joy runs as deep as loss; the warmth of a sensual touch glides easily on the same hand as a slap. Accardi intersperses these layers of beautifully etched /images with a believability that transforms them into a vast landscape where the reader has so much territory in which to wander and contemplate. For me, this is a collection I will read over and over: one reading just cannot do Injuring Eternity justice.