Pattie McCarthy — L&O

In this, the fourth book from Pattie McCarthy, repetition marks the coordinates of maternity and childhood. Divided into two sections, the first “Liminal” opens between the death of a father and the speaker’s pregnancy. “…it’s easy to disappear/ completely into it. masses of flowers” McCarthy writes while rendering a figure neither wholly swallowed by grief or birth, but extensively visible in such a threshold state punctuated by “the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf” (in quotation from WCW), the son who eats “…a freshly/ fallen orange/ autumn leaf before/ anyone can stop him.” The second section “Oyer”, Middle English for hearing (also in the legal sense before a court) cribs it’s 14 line structure from the sonnet, yet end-rhymes give way to a more imperfect repetition that nonetheless defines an intimacy across “this precipitous division”  — “the baby raises his arms (because he/ believes me & I pick him up—…” Such returning gestures (and returning phases) define the consolation of what repeats as well as the harder mourning for what can’t. These determinatives “make explicit the caesura,” McCarthy writes while weaving each section from a bordering network of quotation, multiplying the body of the text further, so that from “…quietly inside the house, it expands to meet you.”

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