Leaning Against the Muscle of That Throat: The Dream Women Called by Lori Wilson

Susan Shaw Sailer
| Reviews


The Dream Women Called by Lori Wilson (Autumn House Press, 2021).


Lori Wilson’s second poetry collection, The Dream Women Called, focuses on a woman’s experience—girlhood expectations, love and sexuality, motherhood and daughterhood, and parental inadequacies, among other things. In nearly all these poems, sometimes foregrounded, sometimes backgrounded, nature offers refuge, renewal, and occasionally, uncertainty. In lines that are precise and musical, these poems express a unique vulnerability and determination—in particular, the determination to construct an adequate self when the self feels broken or lacks a center.
Wilson has the color sense of a painter and the line sense of an engraver. Describing a red-eared slider turtle in the poem “North on the Caperton Trail,” she writes, “Her front legs were yellowstriped anchors” and “Her finely grooved shell, / stuck with chips of rock and sand, / was camouflage in last year’s dry leaves.”  Such finely described imagery heightens Wilson’s observation:

She didn’t retreat, and I tell you:
that day I wanted to be unevolved,
to know in the body, each cell affirming
what I should do.

Tension between the turtle’s single-mindedness and the speaker’s indecision or fear of failure in some other way is characteristic of some of these poems—the conflict of what’s sure and what’s unsure.


Susan Shaw Sailer lives in Morgantown, WV. She has published three books of poetry, most recently The Distance Beyond Sight, and two chapbooks, as well as book reviews of the poets Maggie Anderson, Jan Beatty, and Judith Vollmer.

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