Inverting the usual idea of a celebration of childbirth and motherhood, Dillon’s poems examine another dimension of motherhood that is rarely explored. Using poetry’s powerful, emotional triggers, Dillon creates a mother’s point of view that is central and immediate through her acute powers of observation and her intense imagery. From the very first poem we bear witness as a mother offers fierce counsel to her daughter to atone for a festering secret. Personal and congenital mythologies reticulate like Celtic knot work, revealing in fragments what she has tried in vain to suppress — a malaise of the heart and a hereditary disease, eased only in confessing its pathology to her daughter.
In their tone and vivid imagery, as well as emotional precision, these poems are reminiscent of the mother poems of Sharon Olds and Sylvia Plath, with the grieving defiance of Gwendolyn Brooks. Uniquely, A. B. Dillon locates this specific mother’s tribulations in an ancestral context: the pains, joys, and failures are not only of her time but of every time before.