Summary

This collection of 150 sonnets takes us through the journey from the writer’s wife’s diagnosis with Parkinson’s, eventually complicated by dementia and overmedication, to her death and his early days of grieving.  Married for over 40 years and close companions, their successive separations deal new blows as they happen: She goes into skilled nursing care, gets lost in delusions, and becomes more frail and erratic, finally succumbs after a fall and a short period in a coma.  The writer draws on biblical metaphors and threads memories of their earlier life together in fleeting images so that the reader is left to infer from glimpses a rich and happy marriage that, he reflects, prepared them—but not enough—for this going.  

Commentary

The sonnet form, though less common than it once was, seems to fit the writer comfortably: fourteen lines at a time, deftly rhymed and carefully metered each poem traces a moment, a memory, an image or two, an allusion, a feeling.  Many of the final couplets seem replete with the sum of what has come in the first twelve lines.  O’Siadhail is skilled at his craft.  And though some of the single sonnets stand out more than others, the total effect is a compelling, rhythmic ritual of commemoration and grief.  A valuable and unusual addition to the literature of illness, caregiving, death, and grieving.    

Publisher

Baylor UP

Edition

2015

Page Count

158