Make no mistake, Bodywearers, Connie Colwell Miller’s first collection of poetry, is about the body. And though it might be easy to say that this poetry of the body is poetry of sex, it would be both underestimating and strangely appropriate, because though some of these poems deal overtly with the act of sex — though often in the quiet, private moments — it is a poetry of the whole body, in all its wonders and weakness, and in a larger sense it is the poetry of all bodies.
Miller’s book is separated into three sections, the first of which is a single poem, “The Bodywearers,” in which Miller ponders, “I think we have forgotten / why we wear our bodies.” And it seems as if it is the poet’s calling to remind us, for in the subsequent section The Wearing, we are granted a map of the body, of what it means to have a body house our emotions and thoughts. There are moments of physicality that are small and intimate, such as in “Of Bedsheets and Underwear,” where the speaker admits, “I love this smell of male, / like fists of earth. Sour, private, / embarrasing (caught sniffing the blotch / of juice staining my panties).”
These moments, though, are not solely intimacy with a lover, but those that build and deconstruct the physical and transcendent bodies of family members such as in the third section, Of the Wearing, which includes “Milk,” an ode to the wonders and fears that come with motherhood, “purses her deep pink lips / and tugs the nipple in.” Even animals get their due, as in “Life,” where Miller brings to the fore “my dog’s stippled belly as she rolls / on her spine for a pat.”
But while the physical is the surface that these poems ride upon, it is not the language of sexuality that makes the most impact; instead it is the knowledge of the combination of beauty and horror that makes the body what it is. And while these contemplative poems may not hold all the answers to the questions of our physical existence, they reopen a sense of wonderment toward the world that makes the questions less frightening.
— The Corresponder