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BLOOM IN REVERSE by Teresa Leo reviewed by Anna Strong • Cleaver Magazine
BLOOM IN REVERSE by Teresa Leo University of Pittsburgh Press (Pitt Poetry Series), 104 pages reviewed by Anna Strong From the dedication page, Teresa Leo’s Bloom in Reverse props itself against the fence between the living and the dead. Dedicated to the living but in memory of Leo’s friend Sarah, the poems carry the dual burden of trauma and memory. How do we process, how do we articulate trauma? If we’re at all like Teresa Leo, we recognize that in art, in poetry, we remember the the Sarah Hannahs of the world and bring them into a collective consciousness. She is not forgotten. Donald Hall wrote an astounding collection of poems chronicling his wife’s cancer and death, Without. Bloom in Reverse reads much like that collection—in each poem, we feel the keenness of the “without,” the strain of recollection, the reconstruction of the smallest moments of friendship and intimacy in the clearest language accessible to the speaker. Many of the poems are two-line stanzas, heavily enjambed and riddled with fragments, clauses that build and build on each other only to be let go in a kind of sigh—we feel the struggle to hold onto whatever memories come to mind, only to realize that that’s all they are. The ending of “She Said: It’s Not that Things Bring Us to Tears, but Rather, There Are Tears in Things” struck me as the most poignant of these conclusions: