A Queen Is Holding a Mummified Cat


87 pages
ISBN 0-919349-10-2






Donalee Moulton-Barrett was a writer and editor in Halifax.


Mary Melfi’s poetry is nebulous. Her images are sharp; her language blunt and evocative; her subject matter (primarily dealing with relationships) easily understandable. But do her poems say anything?

Melfi’s work is cute. It’s slogan poetry, with strong, effective punch lines (“So please never use my skull / in a recipe for DANGER”); but after reading A Queen Is Holding a Mummified Cat twice, I returned to the same question. Is Melfi saying anything beyond the obvious? Is there depth to her poetic vision?

I think not. When Melfi’s poetry succeeds, as it does with “You Are As Close to My Body As My Lust,” it is a painful reminder of life’s/love’s fragility: “Thank God, you fit inside my body / like color fits inside my eyes.”

Melfi juxtaposes flesh and spirit in this poem and shows the two to be distinct yet intertwined. Her words and her images are classic simplicity, and out of this simplicity comes power.

Most of Melfi’s work, however, does not compare to “You Are As Close to My Body As My Lust.” Most of it is gimmicky and it quickly grates. This is especially true with the shorter poems. For example, “The Reception”: “Only self-pity receives me at the airport. / I throw paper airplanes ahead of me. / I’m a prime minister and they’re my body guards.”

That’s it folks. And it’s not enough.


Melfi, Mary, “A Queen Is Holding a Mummified Cat,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 22, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/38552.