The Goddess in the Garden


88 pages
ISBN 0-894800-03-6
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.


The sensual cover of this book immediately captured my interest.
“Goddess of Notre Dame de Grace,” a photograph by Stephen Morrissey,
recalls the earthy sculptures of nymphs by Aristide Maillol in Paris’s
Jardins des Tuileries. This figure sets the scene for a collection of
poems that honour the feminine/masculine energies. Zonailo explores the
relations between women as mothers, stepmothers, mothers-in-law,
daughters, and sisters; and between women and men as friends, lovers,
and partners.

In the first of three sections, “Divine Healing,” “mother-knot”
becomes “mother-not,” anticipated in a preceding prose quotation by
Sallie Nichols from Jung and Tarot: An Archetypal Journey. Here the
mother “tending her garden” becomes the lost mother who succumbs to
jealousy and competitiveness, rejecting her daughter altogether as she
“passed through puberty.” Like many women whose mothers were raised
in “the poverty/of [their] Depression youth,” the poet has
“endured” and eventually emerged “from the long cocoon / and
chrysalis of mother-rage.” In fact, Zonailo is “the goddess in the
garden,” the figure through whom all things transmute from dross to

“Angels at the Door” introduces the reader to Terry Evanshen,
Canadian football hero, as “The Man with No Memory,” and to the
blind man in the metro, the tattooed man, the skinhead, the surfer, and
others who are living their lives in fullness and freedom. Here we
encounter the archetypal lover through “the visual element of love”
and the father who is “pregnant with fatherly concern.”

In the final section, “Life Studies: The Female Nudes/The Male
Nudes,” Zonailo brings together the yin and yang of the first two
sections. The female nude is earth mother, single mother, diplomatic
wife, and sex symbol. The male nude is “sacred male energy / made
incarnate” in painter David Jones, poet Irving Layton (Zonailo’s
“ideal pin-up man”), and her husband as she imagines him in the
garden “naked and bending over / chip-high plants / around him,”
with “his sex, his lovely sex / like a beautiful blossom.”

Zonailo’s poetic wisdom is homegrown and familiar, yet we all need a
reminder that despite the dark mother, we eventually realize that “the
comfort of mothers” and the “letting go / [are] so much a part of
loving,” and that the Eden of nakedness and sensuality is of our own
making. Read on a sleepy day and let your body enjoy.


Zonailo, Carolyn., “The Goddess in the Garden,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,