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review 2015-10-07 14:22
Book Review: Corpus Homini: A Poem for Single Flesh by Sofia M Starnes
Corpus Homini - Sofia M. Starnes

"Corpus Homini: A Poem for Single Flesh" is best described as poetry of praise. In her meditations on the relationship between body and spirit, Starnes' uses ordinary images to explore the extraordinary. In "One Food" she equates the hungering of the body ("absolve us for not knowing/ what to eat, how thickly to lay/honey on the bread") with the hungering of the spirit and suggests that both spirit and body can be fed through the small daily rituals that make up our lives ("Come, mama, knead once more/once more reflect the customary/pressing with hand's heel ... the dough springs, earnest, to the rim./ Ninos, do not stray too far-")

The poems do need concentration, as they are dense with imagery and allusion and thus are somewhat obscure on first reading. But the poet's underying reverence, her belief in humanity's desire to transcend the material and become one with the Divine is worth digging for, as these lines from "One Birth" show: opening with a quote from 1 Corinthians 12 ("all the parts...making up one single body ... share its joy"), she likens humans to ants, and faith (or seeking for the Divine) as the "white-gold burden" the ant carries as it returns "into earth's loins" leading the reader into the ephiphany ("burst of steam that thaws a single/glacier, single stream -/ single exodus of people") that leads, despite our resistance, into humanity's divine rebirth/ascension into Heaven ("Ah, how they tug; ... and the nerves band into one/ascension, out to spring."

Resonating with echoes of T S Eliot, Corpus Homini is ultimately about the human need to find spiritual wholeness, to be redeemed in our ordinary lives through our common hope and extraordinary faith.

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