June 25, 2009

Review by Rebecca Ellis

by Pamela Garvey

Finishing Line Press
Post Office Box 1626
Georgetown, KY 40324
ISBN 978-1-59924-236-1
2008, 27 pp., $12.00

If only I could’ve pinned the angel down.
But the angel is winds
sweeping through fingers like sand,
each grain gliding coldly up the arms
into the frantic heart,
then the seed tumbled through my body. Released,
I turned suddenly, as if the angel had a face,
could be pointed to in a line of men.

I wish I’d written that. It’s the ending of Pamela Garvey’s poem, “The Annunciation” — one of many breathless moments in her chapbook, Fear, that pulled me back for another reading of a poem, and another, and another.

“The Annunciation” takes on motherhood, womanhood and religion from the point of view of the woman who experiences it all, perhaps more directly than anyone else ever has. In drawing the poem from that point of view, Garvey goes so far inside the experience that each thought, each physical sensation is utterly real and fully imagined. Mary is as real as your own sister, just as physical and fragile and strong. She confronts the tangible shock of the angel, and faces forces larger than herself that invite her to something important but at the price of her own volition. She is surprised, a victim and survivor who never for a moment loses her ability to face the experience and never backs away from her power to speak about it, to declare it for what it is. And it is both more and less than she might have expected.

Garvey delivers a portrait of the woman and of the transformation, and the portrait is accessible and astonishing. Continue reading

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