Body Rhymes

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Sample Poem from Body Rhymes

The Train to Bath 

In praise of the boy who 
rode the train to Bath 
and gazed at me ‘til Wollingsford. 
He sat tall and straight, his shaggy head 
across from mine, higher than mine. 

He was England, youth of promises, decrees, 
beveled cheekbones of the Royals, 
hollows where I could lay my temple. 

Arching to see him go, I watched his long back. 
Silence. I slumped in my seat. 
Then the train whistle, the lurch, 
and to my surprise, his return 
with an armful of yellow roses. 

He will take them to his love. 
We looked. Or his mother. We smiled 
at the same time, knees almost touching, 
jostling along without words. 

We stopped at Bath. 
We glanced, our eyes close, as I stood up. 
He stood up too. As I turned to go 

he touched my shoulder, 
handed me the yellow flowers. 
His smile stretched around me 
for the rest of my life. 

Praise for Body Rhymes

In Body Rhymes, Donna Emerson offers us her marvelous gift for litany, her love of imagery, and a humor that’s always pierced by the sharpest arrow of tenderness. Deeply felt, the twenty poems of this debut collection range across a spectrum of wide experience and connection—daughter, lover, mother, counselor, teacher, and poet. Body Rhymes distinguishes itself by its fierce loyalty to this difficult world, by its compassion, and its keen eye for the truth. 

Lynn Lyman Trombetta, author of Falling World 

Donna Emerson is a poet who speaks eloquently and elegantly about the body, focusing on sexuality as well as on love and loss. Writing with a righteous anger yet with a tenderness toward the world, she conveys a sense that the words and actions of one person can make a difference, can be redemptive. 

Susan Terris, author of Contrariwise 

There are moments when you are reading a poem and a description of an ordinary experience begins to resonate with a parallel, but unconscious memory you can feel, but can’t explain. Donna Emerson’s Body Rhymes is filled with just such deep rhymes, expressed with a lyricism that is richly sensual, and emotionally charged. At the same time, her photographer’s eye for detail and her instinct for dramatic dialogue reveal the hand of a skillful storyteller. Whether we are seeing the face of a stranger on a train, feeling the first stirring of sexual awakening, or witnessing a young bride’s despair as she faces terminal illness, what sustains these poems is Emerson’s profound compassion and sense of resilient joy. 

Terry Ehret, author of Lucky Break

If you want the rare privilege of spending time with a woman of keen perception who reveals your own heart to you through disclosure of her own, then brew a cup of tea and sit down with Donna Emerson's, Body Rhymes. In her poems, Emerson shares transformative moments of life experience, including, the first stirrings of sexual awakening, in "Morning Ride"; return to the scene of sexual hunger, love and loss in "One Hundred Hudson Street; and the raw, redemptive emotions of facing her mother's death in "She Lay Asleep Wearing Oxygen". I couldn't put Body Rhymes down. I read every poem, in one sitting, and longed for more. 

Connie Parsons, MSW, LCSW