Cherry Rao’s collection of verse begins with some short poems containing simple images, and first impressions suggest that this will be a relatively straightforward collection of poems, dealing with appropriate images deftly presented like the image of the sun in tangerine.
However, this assumption would be wrong as the collection grows in complexity and depth as it progresses and I garnered more satisfaction from the second half of the book than from the first; that is not to say that the preliminary poems lacked merit – far from it. Poems like the playfully named llover were charming with its lines about “where there are rains/there are lovers/they say so/in spanish weather.” And wednesday with its stars and the idea of transmitting happiness across distance or the space between people. These poems give a sense of the realness of love and longing in its purest form.
Warmth also comes across in the poems about family, where the poet describes her parents and some of their idiosyncrasies. This is especially true of the poem my mother, where the maternal figure conjured is a strong and grounding presence.
Along with love comes loss and there are poems that deal with pain and the void that is left when someone leaves, whether this is the end of a relationship or through death. There is no anguish here though; you are not assaulted by graphic images of hurt but the idea that the poet is sad and feels grief is palpable in some poems and washes over you as a reader; for example, through the descriptions of ashes being scattered in ashes to the sea and in the depiction of a house neglected in mildew.
Rao’s strength comes from her ability to use vocabulary that is not difficult to understand, making her verse accessible, but further taking these words and weaving them to form images that are evocative and vivid. This is especially true of the poem the windows which is my favourite in the whole collection, the light as it is dissected coming into a room being a metaphor for loss.
This was a lovely collection which I very much enjoyed reading. It was short and yet, I felt like I had experienced much after reading it.
This review was first published on Reedsy Discovery where I was privileged to read it as an ARC. This is an unbiased view of what I thought of the book.
Please note that the picture used is not the cover of the book as at the time of writing the blog, I was unable to obtain one.