Poet Mary Rose O’Reilley Looks for Junkyard Grace in “Earth, Mercy,” Available from LSU Press
BATON ROUGE – In her new collection, “Earth, Mercy,” Mary Rose O’Reilley sifts through the debris of human habitation – pink thong sandals, curlers, broken televisions – looking for a kind of junkyard grace: “Holiness enters again / turquoise fins, and the Cessna’s carapace / lifts on its wind.”
The first poem, “Genesis,” locates the reader in Edenic time, “in that humid and green / arrival,” while the last, “Watching the End of the World from Hovland, Minnesota,” gives nature a final word: “Morels on goat prairie gloat / in their blue light. Spruce / speaking of green on green.” Between these points, any poem offers a threshold over which something unexpected may pass – a ghost, an angel, or the yap of an insouciant dog alerting us to apocalypse.
Against all that threatens survival, “Earth, Mercy,” now available from LSU Press, asserts the beauty of a poignantly sensual life.
O’Reilley’s first book of poetry, “Half Wild,” won the 2005 Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of Modern Poets. Her five essay collections are grounded in her life as a teacher, potter, musician, Quaker minister, Buddhist novice and farm worker. She lives in Minnesota, where she tends to animals and organic gardens.