The Growth of a Girl to the Wisdom of a Woman
by Stephanie Olivia Bell

"Who am I?
Who am I, now that
I'm no longer
someone's wife,
no longer
someone's daughter,
no longer
someone's mother?
Who am I now?"

A lovely series of poems that invites the reader to witness the progression of a passionate young girl in love, through her maturation years, finally concluding with her older, wiser years. In the first few poems, the reader experiences the joy and rapture the young girl feels at being in love. The reader begins to suspect that all may not be well when the voice changes from blissful to worried. The following poems become laced with intense longing for the missing lover. The poet easily brings her readers into that knowing space of time changing from cherished moments into a form of despair. Sadly, the maturing girl slips into addiction and the reader can't help but sympathize with her. Witnessing the girl transition from living in a place of heaven, to living in a form of hell, evokes feeling of palpable helplessness. The girl begins to see what the reader already knows; that the lover is unable to give the girl what she wants. Bell cleverly shows the passage of time by often referring to the moon phases.

In the second half of the book, "Understanding Nature," the poet writes with eloquent descriptions of the natural setting around her. Rather than lingering on thoughts of her old lover, she now focuses on the simple beauty of her world. This change in outlook gives the reader a profound sense of hope as we watch her grow from longing to gratitude. A few of the final pages of the book are written in prose, with the poet encouraging the reader to see the bigger meanings of life. Although some of the poems are rhyming, most are not. In the final pages, the mature woman finds perspective; it seems gratitude can be good company. This is an enchanting book of poems.

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