Catherine Graham has created a luminous homage to family, to cancer and to the strange windings of truth. Swimming through time and space, Graham introduces her mother, her father and herself and the cancers that pull them apart and bring them together. Memories mesh with visitations and multiple stories unfold of pain and loss, hidden tragedy, forgiveness and growth. With an otherworldly delicacy Graham stitches it all together to create a book-length lyric essay of lingering and profound beauty, a paean to the complexity of love and survival.
Jennifer Geraedts wrote:
"Catherine Graham’s seventh book of poetry is an intricate reverie, in poetry and prose, which floats back and forth in time and between memories, dreams and reflections. It’s an attempt by the Toronto poet and novelist to come to terms with the forces shaping her life, particularly the early loss of her parents (her mother from cancer, her father in a car accident). “Parents die in the world/but they never die in their children,” she writes. Another major trauma is her own diagnosis of cancer and “the danger-cure” of treatment. Graham is an accomplished lyric poet, and it’s the recurrent images and metaphors that carry the greatest emotional weight. One of these recurring metaphors is the quarry near her childhood home in southern Ontario. In the final passage, it becomes symbolic of a sense of resolution, as Graham recalls swimming there: “Swim back to the girl you were swimming forward … Soon you’ll reach the other side.”
“This might be shelved in poetry, but it’s essay and mystery and grief and healing and love too. Graham has a spiraling way of writing that is mesmerizing. With each revisit of a fact or feeling, more is revealed. Everything about this book is perfect – word choice, pacing, even the presentation on the page.”