“What’s conceivable and what’s happened lay side by side,” reads one line from Monica Ferrell’s latest poetry collection, managing to capture the spirit of the entire book, which travels between fictive worlds and reality. You Darling Thing visits and re-visits coupling, courtship, and marriage from the perspective of familiar myths, tropes, and literary brides—like Emma Bovary. Her poems sink readers with whimsy into grim spaces: the desire for a partnership that numbs and consumes, by which Ferrell means snuffs out. Take the youth who wishes to be hunted and kept, preserved as a timeless trophy: “Every sixteen-year-old girl likes / A murder for an admirer.” In moments like this, Ferrell controls and weighs the poetic line to maximize how cavalier, how reckless this attitude, this wish, is. It interrogates the drive toward courtship, a must or a want? For love or demise? “One moment it’s for death, / The next love / So these two confuse . . .” Her brevity and precision is balanced by the occasional multisyllabic, decadent, word that offers readers an opulence like a cold marble in the mouth. The subjects of You Darling Thing continue seeking and pondering their unions, planning their ends before they’ve begun—entirely programmed, err—designed for them. And perhaps it's because of this non-choice that resentment festers for the ritual and tradition of courtship—for the beloved, the counterpart, the eclipse.

Four Way Books.

—Review by Madeline Vardell