Mary Stone Dockery’s Mythology of Touch is one of those rare collections that weaves its way into conversations with my therapist, when I am feeling dismal about my own writing career: “why can’t I write more like…” in this case, Mary Stone Dockery.
The gift that Dockery gives readers in her first full-length collection is not as simple as an exploration of the mythic but rather, a journey through the mythology of feminism; of the female experience. This is not to suggest that there is an agenda here, or that these words are enjoyable to a strictly female audience. Quite the contrary; the curves and the murky recesses that Dockery invites us to peak into exploring the legends of womanhood-the voyages and passage a woman takes.
Broken into three sections the poems in this book are individual adventures. In defiance of the traditional free-form poem, Dockery creates true, human characters; people that we ache and bleed and mourn beside. Dockery unabashedly takes on topics ranging from the experience of childlessness in a world consumed by motherhood:
They all have babies together and to celebrate they wear cartoon character slippers, Bugs and Donald and Jack the Pumpkin King. Fluffy heads scrape asphalt as soon as the weather changes. The bigger, more animated the slipper, the happier the mom and child.
(from Every House on Our Street Has a Baby in It)
to the, sometimes unexpected and simultaneous, horror-magic of sex and love:
He was a baby throwing a tantrum again, and she had not seen it in pictures, had not been warned how blue his cries would sound. Because of him she left her hymen on a doorstep…
(from Almond Milk and Rosemary).
-somehow I knew you would leave, even in the soft moments when my body convulsed before you as if waving goodbye
(from Letter for What We Did That Summer)
Often times when I read a collection from a poet whose poems I have enjoyed on an individual basis I am disappointed. Many writers seem to get trapped in a circular world, repeating the same images over and over with different phrasing. Dockery’s poems travel the visceral world. Part of what is so consummate about this collection is Dockery’s ability to convince the reader that she has had every single emotion, every experience that she writes about. She could have thrown in a poem about what it is like to grow up as Evil Kenevil’s son and I would think ‘wow, it must have been hard to grow up that way, in the shadow of a famous man’.
However, not everything on the surface is what it seems in Mythology of Touch. I have read through this collection a handful of times now, and every time there is a new layer of emotion, a new experience waiting to be had between the pages. This is one of the books that will remain in my purse and on my shelves for a long time. There seems to be something here for every rainy day and even some of the sunny ones. Mary Stone Dockery is a force to be reckoned with, I am confident that we will be seeing a great deal more of her in the future.
About the reviewer:
Jenny Catlin lives and writes in a tiny walk-up that she shares with her partner and their enormous cat, Charley. Originally from south of nowhere Colorado, she has finally found a home in Los Angeles, CA. Her work has appeared in numerous publications both online and in print. Jenny in the founder and editor in chief of the lit. journal scissors and spackle, scissorsandspackle.com. Though she has dabbled in many areas professionally, her first love is reading.