What My Body Knows


104 pages
ISBN 1-55050-267-0
DDC C811'.54





Reviewed by Beryl Baigent

Beryl Baigent is a poet; her published collections include Absorbing the
Dark, Hiraeth: In Search of Celtic Origins, Triptych: Virgins, Victims,
Votives, and Mystic Animals.


Lynda Monahan’s poetry is personal and mood-producing, but there is
more. She articulates her mission statement with a poem on a page that
bears the dedication “for my family / then and now”: “These poems
/ hold you / in their making /like a watermark / made visible / when
held to the light.” She begins by attempting to understand the deaths
of close family members in a sequence of poems for her brother,
stepmother, and father. No punches are pulled here: the deaths involve
suicide, cancer, and flesh-eating disease. This first section
encompasses the title poem: “we inhabit / nothing so much as loss …
/ it’s what my body knows / when reminded of them.”

“Something worth keeping” involves a marriage that the poet likens
to baking a cake and “making a well / in the centre forgetting to put
anything in.” Monahan is 52 years old and appreciates “time and how
little / there really is” to contribute to a relationship. She wants
“no paperback lotharios.” Her hope is to keep “one good man /
honest as salt / who means what he tells [her].”

Two more sections occupy the final fifth of the book with lyrical poems
under the headings “the scent of snow” and “fire stories.” As
some believe the scent of roses indicates the presence of the Virgin
Mary, Monahan intimates that when “she comes a white desire /
obliterating everything / … the scent of snow” will be experienced
in the air about her. Yet as a poet she is also enticed by fire
(inspiration, enthusiasm, boundless energy). Harmonizing water and fire,
the great alchemy, finding out how to “kiss a conflagration”: this
is the secret.

In What My Body Knows, her second book of poems, Lynda Monahan reveals
the complete range of emotions involved in living a life as a fully
connected being in human society.



Monahan, Lynda., “What My Body Knows,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/16394.