“The longest day still entering their dawn” (14) opens the poem Leaving in Geraldine Mills’ new verse memoir, Bone Road. It is a skilled writer who can pack famine, the promise of a new world, and hope into a short book. The Tuke Assisted Emigration Scheme anchoring the collection brought Irish citizens to the United States with the promise of a better life. The work in Warren, Rhode Island offered to Geraldine Mill’s great-grandfather was at a tedious and soul-crushing cotton mill. The town, originally inhabited by the Massasoit, had its own stories, as “Chimney stacks poked fingers at the sky.” (24)
A mosaic of cultures is juxtaposed with sidewalks, faucets and grocers, new experiences for the family. “The night that is all moon/its light playing puck with him/as he works his way along Water Street” (35) reminds her great-grandfather of Achill Head. His bones ache from work and his heart pines for bog cotton and rain.
The power of this collection lies in its threads—cotton, loom, bay, and family. Hunger is a longing for place as well as nourishment. Geraldine Mills weaves a tapestry of deprivation and renewal through the actions of her ancestors, imprinted and passed on like her great- grandmother’s butter stamp. Anticipation of a new grandchild whose life will not be interrupted by a perilous journey closes the collection. Offering knowledge of the sacrifices of the past, these poems reflect on the ways actions two generations removed are carried in both gesture and memory.
Lisa C. Taylor is the author of four collections of poetry, including The Other Side of Longing with Geraldine Mills (Arlen House, 2011) and Necessary Silence (Arlen House, 2013) and two short story collections, Growing a New Tail (Arlen House, 2015) and Impossibly Small Spaces (Arlen House, 2018). Her honours include the Hugo House New Works Award for Short Fiction, Pushcart nominations in both fiction and poetry, and a short-listed story in the Fish Short Fiction Prize in 2020. Lisa served as a two-time mentor in the Associated Writing Program W2W scheme. Lisa holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Stonecoast/University of Southern Maine. She is the fiction editor and interviewer for Wordpeace.co and a frequent reviewer for magazines such as Mom Egg Review. Lisa offers online writing events through Whitewater Writing. She is working on a poetry collection for publication in 2021. www.lisactaylor.com
A native of Galway, Ireland Geraldine Mills is a poet and fiction writer. She has published five collections of poetry, three of short stories and a children’s novel. She has won numerous awards for her fiction and poetry, including The Hennessy New Irish Writer Award, a Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship and has been awarded two Arts Council bursaries. Her fiction and poetry are taught on Contemporary Irish Literature courses in the USA. She is a mentor with NUI and a member of Poetry Ireland Writers in Schools’ Scheme. Her most recent poetry collection, Bone Road (Arlen House) and some of her other titles are now available from