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Review: GIRL FLAME


Mary Adelle’s “GIRL FLAME”

Mary Adelle’s poems are a seduction of all moments. Moments of unspoken existence. Moments interconnected in space, already being future.

These glimpses of her living are as sacred as moving a car seat forward to accommodate your knees. They become a pile of receipts, a collarbone tattoo on flesh, a scent of denim before ash.

She is not only her separate moments, but the seamlessness of time. She is what she must do, her priorities listed as spells. Protein in Quads in skin in pop songs in prayers to Lady Guadalupe. There is no end, no beginning. There’s only experiencing, only a recognition of who she is as she tries to be (good, let me be good, let me be good, let me be good, let me be good).

She knows she will have hangovers, vices. Things that she hasn’t experienced but will encounter based on her awareness of herself. She is what she will do based on what she had done before (“first of all, are you alive? / if so, unclench your jaw. / maybe you’ve trained / away that habit and you / don’t need me anymore”). And she writes herself reminders to achieve this satisfaction. They become the rituals of her inner-power.

This poetess is sensual in her curiosity (or curious in her sensuality). Her work, such as “concerning me and my poems,” brings out a sisterhood of hips swaying with the grit masculinity of car parts. But her poems don’t only exist in the sweat of muscles. They writhe in dreamers. They burn in everyone who lives.

Then there is the raw longing of her poems, one that stems from wishes in transitory time. The receipts mentioned in “checkout,” for instance, are purchases of many moments in each item, recorded and then discarded. But they are reminders that nothing lasts, nothing will happen again. Struggling against time will not resurrect the past. Relationships will always shift away from what they once were. Receipts once valued will be tossed, crumpled away, and lost. Adelle gazes at a decoration of these receipts, glimpsing through them to entire worlds.

As the world spins, seasons change. Years become years. She tracks herself across the black-and-white photographs. Her body slumps, bones shift into a custard hue, while children flicker into visions of her ancestors. Skies crackle gray, almost as tangled as telephone wires. And there is still pleasure, there is still love, there is still opportunity, as all life becomes what it no longer was. She knows this. That’s why her poems are so delicate, hopeful even in their regrets. They’re spells of time. As she said in [remind yourself], “remember: we are dying.” We are living in our dying.


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