Book Review: The Carcass Undressed
Reviewed by Madeline Barbush
A soul-stirring collection that peels away the layers of what it means to be a woman, a daughter, a lover, and a writer
The Carcass Undressed is Linda Eguiluz’s debut, but it feels like she’s been doing this for a while.
In a brief introduction, she notes that these poems are meant to signify the corporeal and spiritual progression of the self. She explores her womanhood and leaves no stone unturned.
Eguiluz breaks the book into three sections: “The Body;” “The Bones;” “The Heart.” Personal and gritty, she bares all in the form of confessional poetry. If you’re willing to open yourself up to the way she feels, loves, hurts, in her skin, then you will receive an education. Eguiluz writes what she knows; she’s had years of practice in her body, her bones, her heart.
In “The Body,” Eguiluz viscerally compares moments when she has faltered mentally, physically, spiritually, to the movements and workings of the earth and nature. “Green Thumb” is a particular favorite of mine, where she compares her past trauma to the wilting of fields and flowers: “Somewhere I hear the wind wail / and the fields wilt; I carry all of those / putrid flowers in my back, the ones who / harbored the secret seed just like I did.”
She so excellently encapsulates the beauty and the pain of being alive. As a woman, what better way is there to personify those immense feelings than as a part of mother nature? In “Black Spring”she does it again: “The body handles despair as the earth handles / a flood—every cell becomes inundated and / there is not much else that can be done / except lie there and welcome the muddy / catastrophes all at once;” While reading, I felt the mud and the rushing water wash over me. Eguiluz has a knack for the senses, and she invites you to explore each and every one.
“The Bones,” the second section of poems, is where Eguiluz really seizes the opportunity to examine her pain and injustices. Her father’s betrayal and the communication gap between her grandmother and herself are the most powerful subjects of the bunch, and there are moments where her resentment and bitterness is so strong, that the beauty of her words are heart crushing.
In “Rose Water” and “Spice,” she examines the day her father left:“That was the day the sun ceased to be a star / and the stars began to tremble, / as if the sky was breaking apart / by the sudden realization that nothing / was ever real. My father took me home / and traded me for a black suitcase /with his initials on it.”Although this is only one poem of the eight, the title of the collection, The Bones, made sense to me after reading. We can be miles from the place and time of a parent’s abandonment and betrayal, but do we ever really make it that far away?
The final section, “The Heart,” might be my favorite. Eguiluz mightily jumps from her childlike self in “The Bones,” to a woman falling in and out of love. This love she falls in and out of has many faces. One is a lover, another a wife, a Mexican, a writer. There exists in each of these identities an everlasting hopelessness and defeat.
It might at first seem that Eguiluz writes from a dark place where little light exists, but don’t let this blind you from the reality of her intentions. By the end of the section, I realized that she isn’t a defeatist, she is only making up for all the times that the truth was concealed or withheld from her. She decides to live in the dark just another moment longer, so that she can finally come into the light.
I recommend this collection to anyone hesitant to do what Eguiluz found the courage to. Her heavy gaze is directed inward to examine the truth of her identity. She peels away at her layers and discards them one-by-one. It’s one of the most challenging things anyone can do. And there’s no real promise that she has landed on one identity within the scope of this collection; coming to some destination or end result is not the end goal. I just can’t wait to see where she ends up next.
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Genre: Poetry / Women
Print Length: 52 pages
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