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Helwig, Maggie.

Ottawa, Oberon Press, 1987. 51pp, cloth. $17.95, ISBN 0-88750-669-0.

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by donalee Moulton-Barrett

Volume 16 Number 4
1988 July

Reading The Eden Poems by Maggie Helwig is like travelling over rough terrain: a difficult (and sometimes uneven) ride, but worth the journey.

This slim volume of poetry—fifty-one pages with lots of illustrations and blank leaves—takes readers back in lime to Biblical days while at the same time fully immersing them in contemporary society:

In Eden the surge
where the smashed fruit lay, the coil
on the branch of the tree running
spire like the bone of a spine. . .

Somewhere a bullet strikes brick, or a
prison door
drops shut. In the garden
a green balloon rises out of the grass,
explodes on a thorn.

Helwig journeys through the fall from grace, looking beneath the bitten apple to the meaning of grace, indeed into the origins of apples themselves. She is at her best as an observer. "Here," she seems to say, "is what I see," and through her vision the layers of myth and legend are peeled away. Reality is left.

In the strongest poem in the collection, "Preface," Helwig asks lots of questions and leaves us with insights firmly implanted in our minds. The poem ends with these lines:

There are two trees.
This is life undying.
This is a garden.
This is paradise.

For the mercy,

donalee Moulton-Barrett, Halifax, N.S.
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