“You were special before someone told you so.”
These words appear almost halfway into Ms.Elae’s book of poetry, Bloodroots, forming the message and theme of so many of her poems: human worth and dignity, often hidden and unrecognized. Ms. Elae writes about addicts and victims of violence, plus people who have been lost and broken and their path to redemption. She includes herself in this group, starting her first page with this opening: “I have wounds I’m still cleaning, a peace I’m still fighting for, a journey I’m still on, and a heart to keep safe…” And this book is full of heart, Ms. Elae’s mighty, often generous heart.
In the poem, “Cleanse,” she writes about needing to set boundaries with a “toxic” friend, adding that the friend eventually let go of the pain she had been carrying and was able to heal. Not all the characters in her poems are that fortunate. In “Popular Pete,” she describes an immature man whose “only care that he had was to never care,” and tells “John Doe,” “I’m so sorry you lost your way.” But even in her own hard beginnings (where “love was found in pill bottles and liquor/And affection was served on cold plates”), Ms. Elae sees hope: “And I think Mother Nature loved me/Or a God. Possibly.” She writes of friends lost, like in “The End of Winter” and of friends who helped sustain her, as in “Dear August.”
My favorite poem is “Princess Unicorn,” which is a love letter of encouragement to a young girl. It reminds me of my own princesses and my hopes that they love themselves and have happy, fulfilling lives, avoiding many of the setbacks and pitfalls I had to face.
These are wonderful poems of love and witness, inspiring us, as women, to grow and thrive and to heal our own inner brokenness. It is a splendid debut.
Review written by: Pat M. Kuras
Edited by: Rita Fidler Dorn