Alexia Major Reviews A Beautiful and Vulnerable Collection from Veronica Eley
The Blue Dragonfly
Hidden Brook Press
“no boundaries, no critics/ beyond words and definitions”
There is a certain reverence evoked when someone offers to share their experience with trauma. Almost immediately, you are displaced to empathy; you are humbled to share in their hurt, their struggle and their resilience. Veronica Eley offers her heart and her whole self in The Blue Dragonfly. She hides none of her scars and none of her insecurities.
This book of poetry presents Eley’s journey through a turbulent life of mental illness, childhood trauma and the challenges these experiences impose on parenthood. A showcase of these themes appears in “humane but not ethical.” This poem knocked the wind out of me upon the first read.
The defenselessness of Eley washed over me as I read:
“with scientific expanded knowledge/ they should be able/ to thumbprint a bipolar woman/ then she could willingly be sterilized/ putting an end to/ traumatized children.”
These poignant lines rang in my head days after reading them.
To say that Eley crafted these words would discount the raw beauty of her courageous choice to share herself with the reader. From the poem, “humane but not ethical,” I realized the magnitude of Eley’s poetic collection: to share so much of one’s traumatic history is to offer healing and solidarity to another.
The full title of this body of work is The Blue Dragonfly: healing through poetry. The general symbolism of a blue dragonfly signifies communication through self-expression. Fittingly, Eley presents a body of work in which she bears her life, withholding no shortcomings, though she seems tempted as seen in “secret monsters”:
“in some ways/ I live a life of pretence/ hidden/shameful/ feeding the snake within/ with disgusting morsels.”However, Eley pushes through these misgivings to present a beautiful and vulnerable body of work that I am sure will offer solace and healing to many.