Model Home by Eve F.W. Linn, Reviewed by Rachel Trousdale
Eve Linn’s chapbook Model Home is about being a mother, which means it is also about being a daughter. The sharp short sentences of these poems give us access to experiences shared across generations without eclipsing the characters’ individuality. As the book alternates memories of childhood with the experiences of pregnancy, birth, nursing, and raising a child to adulthood, it examines the continuities, traumas, and beauty of women’s lives.
Linn is particularly interested in the physicality of parenthood. Model Home examines maternal bodies with unsentimental precision: one poem describes the speaker’s mother’s naked back as “a string of buttons with no dress”; in another, the speaker’s own body during childbirth is “a hinge of protest.” Being a parent, as these poems suggest, teaches us to look anew at our own parents.
The poems also focus on growth and transformation. In a poem describing a photograph of the speaker’s mother and father on their wedding day, Linn’s speaker realizes that their youth (like hers and her child’s) was full of potential futures, only some of which were realized. Another poem focuses on a child’s body, as the infant’s “nail seeds” are replaced by the grown son’s adult hands. Similarly, these bodies are also capable of imaginative transformation: “I dyed my hair blue so I could fly,” Linn writes; and even if, as she discovers, “To become a bird is not easy,” the possibility seems to remain.
While motherhood is a dominant theme of the book, the poems’ scope extends well beyond family narrative: Linn considers Peter Minuit’s purchase of Manhattan from the local Native American tribe; the life of an orb weaver spider; and the motivations of snakes, finding an immediate emotional resonance in even the most distant of perspectives.
Linn’s poems give a clear-eyed, lovely account of the losses and ambivalences as well as the joys we experience as children and the parents of children. As in childbirth itself, there is both pain and beauty here, and an experience of transformation made all the more startling by the realization that we share it with so many others.
Rachel Trousdale is an associate professor of English at Framingham State University. She is the author of a poetry chapbook, Antiphonal Fugue for Marx Brothers, Elephant, and Slide Trombone, and of two scholarly books: Nabokov, Rushdie, and the Transnational Imagination and Humor in Modern American Poetry. www.racheltrousdale.com