This debut poetry collection offers a sincere exploration of life's struggles and joys.
Mezera chronicles her own search for wisdom and peace in this promising first volume of poetry. She seems keenly aware of how that search relies on one's ability to care for one's body, mind, and spirit; hence, health—in its various manifestations—is an important throughline here. Her opening section (of seven) is titled "Wrestling with the Big D"—"D" for depression—and its poems detail her decadeslong pursuit of mental health. Throughout, she softens no edges while discussing depression's challenges; in "Soul Sickness," she writes: "Deep and dark it is, / Like swimming through quick sand. / Choking, disabling, suffocating. / Soul sickness, / All hope gone." These are dark truths, but readers will trust Mezera because they know that she's not pulling her punches. Another section, "Health Matters Too," focuses more narrowly on physical ailments, notably multiple sclerosis. She writes of the disease, which she struggles with, in a number of poems; none are as moving as "Scared": "Living scared / That is what I am doing. / Scared I'll lose my job, / Scared I'll lose my eyesight. / On a warm and sunny bike ride. / That is what MS does." Again, the poet's unpretentious confession is so affecting because it feels so real. Other sections deal with emotional or social health; one is titled "On Being Shy" and another, "Relationships." In both, the speakers chronicle their efforts to be at peace with themselves and others. They face numerous challenges but resolve to be grateful for other people; in "Thankful," for instance, Mezera writes, "Be thankful every day, / All day, / In every way. / Family, friends, acquaintances / Enemies too—they keep us honest. / Be thankful for them all." Readers can be thankful for Mezera's frank, stirring verse. It's accompanied by a small, tasteful collection of debut illustrator Lynes' black-and-white drawings, which match the writing in theme and tone and serve as appropriate accent pieces.
A poignant song of a hard-won hope.