The first section, “The Sow,” is a fable told through a sequence of free verse poems that examines motherhood through the experience of a shape-shifting animal. The manuscript’s second section is a long poem, “The Woman with the Frog Tongue,” written in Spenserian stanzas, and organized according to the morphology of the fairy tale as laid out in Vladimir Propp’s “Thirty-One Functions” told in ten chapter-poems. At the poem’s end, the reader is offered three possible endings with which to resolve the woman’s strange and difficult tale. The third section of the chimerical Fabulous Beast is “Minor Gods,” a sequence of metrical poems exploring autonomy, sexuality, and fidelity through the lens of mythology.
The entire collection ends with one last conversation between the mother and child from the book’s central fairy tale. The child, trying to make sense of her place in the world, listens to her mother speak about her own childhood. In this closing prose poem, she attempts to assure her daughter that our very terrible moments are often short-lived, and what lasts is a renewed sense of presence, of aliveness, in the world. She allows that this anecdote has its limitations, however: “I want you to believe me,” she says in the book’s final lines. “And yet, I want/ for you those summer nights, too, when you lie awake and imagine/ all the ways you don’t.”
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Published by Texas Review Press