Category Archives: CPR Volume 18, Issue 3

Review of The Cardiologist’s Daughter, by Natasha Kochicheril Moni

Review by Donna Vorreyer

“the heart would rather be left
alone in its cavity, just the heart and its
pericardium, alone, multilayered…”

The Cardiologist's Daughter
The Cardiologist’s Daughter
Natasha Kochicheril Moni
978-0692270714
(2014, Two Sylvias Press)
$16, Paper

In The Cardiologist’s Daughter, Natasha Moni combines both a poet’s and a doctor’s eye to create passages that appeal to both the head and the heart. The heart and its many mechanical and personal foibles are at the center of this collection, which tries to articulate the connective tissue that binds us to family, to each other, and to the world.

After the opening poem chronicling the heart attack of the speaker’s father, the speaker takes us through a series of poems that use the elements. In “The Acupuncturist warns the Cardiologist’s Daughter,” we start with fire: her heart caught fire, has swelled/to contain too much/heat. The next poem flows with “We speak of water,” and the next connects us to earth/sand in “Hold Fast to Mother’s Spine.” This movement to nature in many parts of the manuscript grounds the emotion and the medical terminology in a universal place that all readers can recognize.  Images often resonate in both natural and medical ways: a butterfly is an insect, an image of freedom during war, and a type of syringe; eggs are surreal talismans as well as naturally fragile objects ripe with metaphor.

The real and beating heart of this collection, however, is its exploration of family, especially the bond between parent and child. “Once a Father, the crook of his arm” gives us a playful portrait: becomes swing, the play structure left to oxidize./After the heart patients clear, he swaps stethoscope/for the necklace of his daughter, stocking/ legs looping his throat. The narrator also allows the father his own voice in “The Cardiologist Speaks” and shares what she’s learned from him, saying that he knows  that the heart is a house/tended with dream, it gives in/when it wishes. Other poems pay homage to the Indian and Dutch heritage of the author and her parents (shared in autobiographical notes as well as in the poems.) We have tigers, mangoes and the Ganges of India, and the Delft blue and House of Orange of Holland, ancestral histories of the family depicted in numerous ways.

The collection is strongest in the poems that juxtapose the domestic and the scientific.  In “Cranberry Sauce Provides an Improper Dressing for the Modern Turkey,” Moni deftly weaves these images into profound understandings:

My mother wraps, unwraps
leftovers, addresses each dish with a dose
of plastic sheathing. Days ago, a miniature balloon
inside my father bellowed. And I arrived
at the understanding that we wouldn
t be taking this balloon
ride together, or one with hot air, a basket
attached for human voyage. What constricts, dilates.
What empties, fills.

One does not need to be the daughter of a cardiologist to appreciate the realities, sacrifices and nobility of the heart that Moni highlights in this collection. As long as yours is beating, you will find something here.

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 18, Issue 3.

Donna VorreyerDonna Vorreyer’s first full-length poetry collection, A House of Many Windows, is now available from Sundress Publications. Her work has appeared in many journals including Rhino, Linebreak, Cider Press Review, Stirring, Sweet, wicked alice, and Weave. Her fifth chapbook, We Build Houses of Our Bodies was just released from Dancing Girl Press. Visit her online at www.donnavorreyer.com

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Iowa, a Photosynthetic Star
by Samantha Futhey

Summers unfurl razor leaves,
tiny fingers grasping soil.

Stomata, open like punctures
in a time card, convert light

to sugar, netted in a loop of hunger
and thirst, thousands of mouths

pulsing to the sun. Orbs of water
escape from silica and loam, loss

shivering strings of light, a web
we cannot sift through,

break apart. From space,
Iowa glows like a rash,

the hot pink of a star
rippling before its collapse.
 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 18, Issue 3.

Samantha FutheySamantha Leigh Futhey received her M.F.A. in the Creative Writing and Environment program at Iowa State University. She has poetry published or forthcoming in RHINO Poetry, Rust +Moth, Superstition Review, and The Fourth River.

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Organize Your Home Using This Weird Old Trick
by Jennifer Bullis

When you get all the way down to the sub-atomic level,
the location of any particle is not governed by laws
but is merely predicted by probability.

So think of the microdust gassing away
from the delaminating soles of your loafers
as possessing a 0.00031% chance of knowing

where you put away the furniture polish
last time you used it, which was perhaps a year or more ago,
because who uses actual furniture polish?

It’s not on the list of 10 Foods You Should Never Eat.
It’s not even The Secret the Power Company
Doesn’t Want You To Know About.

Nevertheless, new advertisements will be coming
to your area soon! While you wait, make a wager
as to how all those apparently solid objects in your cupboards

are planning to mingle with the apparently solid knickknacks,
cleaning implements, and labor-saving devices
you will be shoving onto the shelves with them

as you sprint around tidying up before company arrives.
Just remember where you put away your voice:
middle drawer on the left. Your fear of judgment,

behind the door in the kitchen. Your nostalgia,
in the pantry next to the oregano. Your doubts—
those, you let out to roam the neighborhood.
 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 18, Issue 3.

Jennifer BullisJennifer Bullis grew up in Reno, earned a Ph.D. in English at UC Davis, and taught college writing and literature in Bellingham, Washington, for fourteen years. Her first collection of poems, Impossible Lessons, was published by MoonPath Press in 2013.

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