Volume 8 (Fall 2014)

Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. – Psalms 19:2

Martha Collins' sixth collection, Day Unto Day, is a book-length meditative lyric expedition into the landscape of love, dissolution, and hanging on, tenaciously, to the fraying shreds of our battered humanity. Perhaps this is terrain that others have traversed before, but Collins' voice is unmistakably her own, and it is one of the most vital voices writing today – earnest without pretension, complex and multifaceted, understated, yet powerful in its tenderness. Keyed to six different months over five years, the book enacts at once an unraveling and an accrual, structured in six long poems, each poem composed of 30 or 31 short sections, one section for each day of the month.

From the section “Under Green” (April 2006)


     Down the street from the green

     school where lines form, the red

     school waits

                           My love checks

     his blood now, wet rubies

     on his fingers

                           Love lives

     on what is lost, draws

     blood, colors us in


     Hawk got dove

     today. Sharp-shinned

     hawk. Mourning dove. Beside

     the garden pulled feathers, plucked

     down, pecked at entrails wet with

     blood, ate, flew low with

     what was left—bird

     heavy with bird

Here the “green” of growth and the “red” of death collide, where death is a “school,” signaling the end of innocence; the “rubies” atop a diabetic's fingers; and the “entrails” consumed by the hawk, which transforms the innocence of the “mourning dove” (like the innocence of schoolchildren) into food for what must be carried on; thus, personal “love” is transformed into the “Love” that survives death. These poems' startling enjambments, their repetition and reconsideration of a range of tropes (flowers, ice, flesh), and their reserved yet intense tone, all serve to create a rich, organic, honest experience of a truth that is almost beyond utterance.

     –Michael Broek

Short-shot Review:

Day Unto Day by Martha Collins (Milkweed, 2014)