Moonflower: Musings On Love

By Ràyó

A review of Esther Edoho's Moonflower.

 Image: Cover Of Moonflower.

Image: Cover Of Moonflower.

For years, I have read Esther Edoho’s blog - Pieces of August. I find her writing reflective and honest, even more so when she accompanies poetry with audio narrations of same. From her first tweet about a forthcoming chapbook, I was eager to read it, and pleased when she sent a review copy. Moonflower, Edoho’s first collection of poetry, has 21 poems and short prose pieces centered on love. The collection is as much about outwardly expressed love as it is about loving and caring for oneself — or at least it inspires ponderings that should lead the reader down the path of the latter.

 

Love And Other Drugs

Throughout, I wonder if Edoho’s choice of the book title, Moonflower - taken from a beautiful weed that is an intoxicant and considered poisonous1 - is a deliberate comment about the nature of love. I have always been fascinated by actual moonflowers — how they wake in the evenings and go to sleep when the sun rises, as though engaging with the rest of the world, awake, would ruin them somehow. Edoho’s Moonflower opens with ‘Sour’ - a short poem about the persona’s fear that their love has fallen sleep. What follows are musings and questions about the nature and worth of love. It sets the tone for the book.

and isn’t that the worst? Love
going to sleep when it has barely
conquered what is left of your doubts?

Where ‘Sour’ wavers, the next poem is about strength. In ‘Adiaha’, the imagery is so strong that my mind conjures the character and follows this woman — from another time, it seems—as she boldly chooses a life of freedom against the norm. In 26 lines, it tells a full story about a woman unloved and abused physically and emotionally, yet, in the end, unafraid.

You did not collect shame
they must have tried to force it
into your hands because you rolled a fist
that was impenetrable and slowly
pushed them all away

Each time I think about ‘Adiaha’, I also think about ‘Survival 101’ - another poem in the collection that read, to me, like it should have been the sequel to ‘Adiaha’. At the end, Edoho returns to contemplation and questions, a thread running through most of the poems in the slim volume. Her questions have a powerful effect; making the poems like shards of a mirror so that I catch self reflected in some, while others cut through walls I have built. ‘Introspection’ is one of the latter. Its questions force me to obey the title: to pause and reflect on self.

 

A Sprinkling of Prose

Moonflower is sprinkled with four prose pieces, but even they are poetic and rhythmic. ‘Layers’ straddles the line between poetry and prose. In spite of the short sentences packed closely and which, when read, feel layered on one another like building blocks, I cannot tell from the presentation — without line breaks and whitespace — what category it falls into.

We Could Be Lovers’ on the other hand, is clearly prose. During rereads, I find myself skimming over it, and wonder if perhaps the chapbook should have been left to poetry alone, as this lengthy (compared to the poems) piece of prose breaks the mood and flow of my reading. The irony, however, is that one of my favourite lines from the book is from prose ‘At Least Not Yet’. She writes:

I always leave enough room for all the questions I have; enough room for when my answers come.

Although written about the reason a relationship ended, it is a perfect summation of what Edoho’s chapbook does to the reader. Many of the poems make one feel like the writer is wandering in her head, pacing, trying to figure love out. It also gives the sense that I am reading someone’s diary as she tries to sort through thoughts and feelings. It is no wonder she describes the collection as, “…the most personal poems [she has] ever shared.”

Though in the dedication, she writes: “For Udeme Ekefre, I am writing this for both of us”, her words felt deeply like they were for me too —

everything is stained with memory
and it feels like you are leaving yourself behind


 

Have you read Esther Edoho's Moonflower? Which is your favourite poem/prose?



Sources

1 Soni P., Siddiqui A. A., Dwivedi J., and Soni V., (2012), Pharmacological properties of Datura stramonium L. as a potential medicinal tree: An overview. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, Vol. 2 (12), pp. 1002–1008.

 

This copy of Moonflower was kindly sent by Esther Edoho, in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts expressed in this review are that of the writer/reviewer.