Mars and Her Children

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

“The Ark of Consequence” opens Piercy’s twelfth collection of poems “by way of prologue.” This meditation on the rainbow introduces a major theme in MARS AND HER CHILDREN. Piercy imagines the rainbow as a circular “boomerang of light,” meant to remind us, the earth’s caretakers, that “what we/ toss out returns in the water table;/ flows from the faucet into our bones.” For the folly of our “covenant broken,” humans are given a reminder: “the deadmoon for company and warning.”

This long, conversational collection explores many of Piercy’s cherished themes. Divided into seven sections, one for each color of the rainbow, the book’s structure suggests a search for wholeness and unity, while the poems celebrate the wild variety offered by the sensuous world the poet so lovingly describes. She moves wide-eyed through her worlds, the revelations of each color, and the seasons.

In a comic/tragic voice she talks about city life and work life killing the spirit (“Report of the Fourteenth Subcommittee on Convening a Discussion Group”). Watching a snail with its house on its back dodge foot traffic in a park, she shares in “Woman in the Bushes” a local doctor’s description of a homeless woman found dead: multiparous, once affluent, severe malnutritional, frostbite. She is enraged by human’s presumptuous and callous use of animals (“Cousin, Cousine”) and describes in “For Mars and Her Children Returning in March” the wild “dark joy” she feels as breaching humpbacks tower near her, her shirt “wet with the breath of the whale,/an anointing.” She describes women’s lives with humor, charm, and passion in “Old Shoes” and “Apple Sauce for Eve.” Much of her best writing graces the nature lyrics, like “When Too Much is Barely Enough” and “The 31st of March.” Her passion for family, earth and ecology mark “Up and Out.” Piercy’s simple language is infused with childlike awe, vivid imagery, and earthy mysticism. This collection will please both fans and readers new to her work.