We Can Take the Power Back: A Review of Lilius' Thirsty Bones

“A grinning man is / ready to make her his paper / doll, new dresses with stiff tabs, / ready to fold--over and over.” There are so many powerful lines of poetry in Sarah Lilius’ collection Thirsty Bones, but this is line from “Paper Woman” is one of my favorites, and is a great representation of the collection. The chapbook by Blood Pudding Press features 20 poems about the experience of womanhood. Lilius’ poetry explores issues like rape and objectification in a raw, candid, yet eloquent fashion.

My favorite poems include “Shallow River,” “You Can’t Paint the Moon,” “No Oasis for Victims,” “Paper Woman,” and “[ ] Culture.”

Thirsty Bones is not for the fainthearted or those who want to bury the issues women face and live through everyday under the rug of oppression and silence. Sarah Lilius makes it so her reader cannot ignore these things that are all too ordinary for women--she shines a blinding spotlight on them and demands her reader takes heed.

This chapbook is honest and brave and unashamed. If only every women felt able or allowed to share her story the way that Lilius does. As I read the poems “[ ] Culture” and “To My Rapist,” I thought about my own dark, hidden experiences as a woman and how I don’t know if I will ever be courageous enough to open my mouth and utter them. Thirsty Bones left me with the hope that maybe one day I will be able to share all my experiences as a woman, and that women around the world will be able to do so as well. Lilius shows us that we can face our demons and demolish them. We can take the power back. The last few stanzas of “[ ] Culture” exemplify this: “My silence, the place I hide, overgrown / with weeds, they smell fresh, / shaking their seeds from green heads. // Now it’s laid out like a snake suddenly / on a table, I want to cut off the head, / feed it to my rapist in the dark. // And when he screams NO, / maybe I’ll take it out or maybe / I’ll make him eat it / with open eyes.”

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