Review: Sister, Blood and Bone

Paula Cary
Poetry
20 pages
5 ½” x 8 ½” chapbook, hand-stitched with fuzzy, colored yarn
First Edition
Blood Pudding Press
Medina, Ohio, USA
Available HERE
$7
Review originally published on 4/16/15


Having a younger sister, there is a certain connection I am able to make to Paula Cary in her poetry collection, Sister, Blood and Bone. Cary’s main inspiration throughout this collection is her sister, to whom the book has been dedicated. It is easy to see this inspiration in the way she writes her poems as both cautionary tales and remembrances of days gone by. In the opening poem, Cary asks her sister not to lose her identity in going to college, but to hold fiercely to it by keeping a constant reminder:

Bring something to remind you
of who you are
[…]
For you, these will be skeletons
[…]
brown and brittle bones,
Fragments, shells of birds, tortoises
Reminders of how futile
And fleeting life is […]
(from “Advice for a Sister Going to College,” p. 1)

Many of the circumstances Cary writes about, she does so as above, directly laying out what she wishes you to see. She also has a tendency to mix these direct references with others hidden in imagery, as in “Sacrificial Breakfast” and “Will You Ever?”

Will you dance
in a foreign place with foreign men
spinning you on the dance floor?
[…]
But will you ever
Follow the same 
Lava flows 
As I?
(from “Will You Ever?” p. 9)

Though Cary’s mention of cave diving in previous poems may intend for the mention of lava to ask literally if her sister will explore the same caves, it can also be seen as a question of which paths her sister will take in life. Will she make the same mistakes? Will she learn from watching her older sister go first? These are some of the same questions I might ask my own sister. Cary’s writing is relatable, and her style allows you to pull from some of your own life experiences while reading it. Sister, Blood and Bone is an easy read that will leave you in a pleasant thoughtfulness for the remainder of your day.