The Night We Were Dylan Thomas by Mara Bergman (Arc Publications)

Tears in the Fence

The opening poem of Mara Bergman’s well-structured second full collection looks back to her first, with that book’s many pieces about or inspired by museums, galleries, photography and childhood. Subsequently, though, it stays largely with personal events, first in New York (city, upstate and Long Island) and then in England, with visits and phone-calls keeping the poet in contact with her mother back in the US. We witness her mother’s increasing infirmity, her move to a home, and her death and its psychological aftermath. The mood eases with holidays (Greece, Andorra, Norfolk) and day-to-day life in Kent, before it reprises the theme of infirmity, now in the poet’s own body. There are several poems, smiling through the pain, about how an injured body-part can make itself a constant focus of attention. This time, however, there’s a reasonably happy conclusion as the injury recedes but leaves as a psychic residue the…

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