48 pages
ISBN 0-920717-49-7
DDC C811'.54






Reviewed by Shannon Hengen

Shannon Hengen is an assistant professor of English at Laurentian


Dick’s persona is unmistakably female, concerned with her image both
in her lover’s eyes and in mirrors, and with pregnancy, childbirth,
and children. In everyday language, and in a spirit of query and
discovery, the female voice considers her relationship to her male lover
and the child they cannot conceive. Metaphors of disease temper the
opening jouissance, where natural figures appear, and prepare for the
last poems, which treat the persona’s infertility. The unmistakably
female voice also seems obviously contemporary.

In “Mirror,” the voice is “squirming like a grub / under the
white light / of your returned stare”; having compared herself to a
starving child in a magazine appeal for aid, the speaker is waiting as
hopelessly to be filled with a fetus as the photographed child is
anticipating food. The first poem of the book’s second and title
section shifts to third person, and the female speaker does become
pregnant—with her lover’s words; the next poem shows a woman giving
birth “astride a grave / of course / the child fell in.” Most of the
poems in this section have children as subjects.

The frank tone and stark imagery of “when the bleeding stops / i’ll
sit quietly / cutting cancer dressings / from our sheets” contrasts
with the celebratory “i am astonished / as i emerge / each time / from
the cocoon / of our sheets // to see your body / stretching
magnificently / like a lion.” The opening poems in the first section,
entitled “Kaleidoscope,” offer simple, effective praise for the
pleasure that her lover’s body provides.

Dick’s voice seems contemporary in its handling of not only the joys
but also the pains of female sexuality. This small volume of poems takes
the reader deftly into the heart of the speaker’s sexual pleasure as
well as her longing for conception.


Dick, Jane., “Conceptions,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 26, 2024,