The inherent dimness of progressing through the meandered obscurities and absurdities of living, like a caravan lost in a dessert, thirsty and willing to fight to find water, is the contradiction towards which Daquin attempts to draw us. It isn’t that there is no joy or peace in life, yet it is rimmed with salt that might tickle sometimes, like a spicy margarita’s salt-rimmed glass, and sometimes pinch a great deal when sprinkled on an open wound. A recent song, Only love Can hurt Like this by Paloma Faith, comes to mind as I continue reading Daquin’s poems, as most of them are about love—a love that is unrequited, confused, tormented, and sometimes satiated. A love that receives, gives, loses, prevents, pleases, and is consumed by its own motif, emotionally and physically. Love poems by John Keats, Anne Bronte, and William Shakespeare come to mind. 

The second element that stands out in this beautifully crafted book is gendered nuances and veracity. Womanhood, sisterhood, and LGBTQIA+ are some of the focus points for Daquin. In all, the celebration of diversity emerges through a distinct semantics about equity challenges that persist despite the millions of dollars spent educating girls and on DEI programs. And therefore, Daquin appears as a shining mentor, encouraging all to follow their path, their hearts, and be supportive of each other, regardless of their gender identification. This very personal, confessional collection is a rare clarion call to let people be, let them exist, without impinging any kind of preconceived collateral damage on their romantic or self-identification choices. It’s the salutation to the “self” that Daquin’s poetry heralds. To give one example: 

Oh women 

slow down 

disease chases those who survive by drowning 

stop and listen to the beat of your heart 

far from competitive playground. 

teach your daughters to dream 

not weight loss and prom dresses 

nor crabs in a bucket, pinching others back 

that we emerged from clay 

forging and set, with our tender strength 

each other free. (That we were clay, p. 17) 

This brings me to my third and final point for the purposes of this review: that the parity Daquin seeks for all is revealed the most in this collection through poems on love, on longing, on need, and on establishing some reasonable semblance of normalcy. There is a sense of dystopian misery in failed love that seeks help for a return to better times. In the poem Intimidation (p. 24), Daquin says at the end, “we purchase pieces of costume/rev up the game/dinner eats the diner/let’s turn form on its head/and dance barefoot, deft/learned in bondaged war/with ourselves.” Daquin also talks about the need for love’s nourishment. 

I am a soul needing 


it does 

not come in usual 


used to 

chain and ball. (Nourishment, pp. 25-26) 

And it’s very refreshing to find a poet in contemporary, acutely bullying times, quite openly accepting that to be helped is not a sign of weakness, but rather a strength of character to take the first step towards healing from some kind of loss and trauma. 

You found me on the edge of the world 

where only tumbleweed and lost directions fell 

spilling into chasm, rendering fallow 

land uninhabited by those striving to untender yen 

you gathered me into your warmth… (Crocus of their heart, p, 28) 

Successful, satisfying, and gratifying love—even one that hurts—is Daquin’s raison d’être in this collection. It’s, in fact, the most heartening and realistic quality of this winsome collection. I couldn’t help but remember Rihanna’s song, The Way you Lie (2010). We all seek love, and few get it, though the yearning remains till we die, and some may endure pain to get and retain what we believe might be love, not lust. One cannot forget, for example, Princess Diana’s quest for true love. And judging is not in the realm of poets and their outpourings. The last poem in the book, The unseen world, charmingly captures this emotion, leaving the reader pleased that in this abnormal, chaotic, war-strewn world, there is some prospect for humans to feel loved, cared for, wanted, and safe. 

If I could starve for want of you, I believe I would. For no moment passes with satisfaction, unless in some way, you exist on its marble periphery 

My love; your eyes bewitch my life blood, kindling the charred rejoinder of hope, a poppet to your sorcery, emerging deep forest 

When dying comes for me, it’ll be your face I kiss, feverish and familiar, your preternatural smile haunting my passage, faithful ghost, mine 

In this place. In each other. A languid, yawning soft space between, the unseen world. 

Daquin employs a variety of poetic forms: free verse, short stanzas, long stanzas, some non-rhymed couplets, and some poems having a combination of single lines and stanzas. To me, this suggests poetic liberty to express itself in the manner the poet chooses. There is no artificial attachment to any form, which is clearly reflected in Daquin’s choice of words, poetry topics, and her attempt to draw readers to the disparities that exist, especially in love. 

On each page of the book, a butterfly greets us, symbolizing freedom, rebirth, faith, and transformation. Daquin’s exquisite collection is the epitome of a renaissance that most of us seek to emerge from scathed yet still trudging forward from each failure. That’s the hallmark of brave people, and Daquin’s collection is a nod to gallantry and survival in an unequal, selfish, and cruel yet prospectively utopian world. 

Two-time Pushcart Prize-nominated (22,23), and Tagore literary prize finalist 2023, Anita Nahal is a writer and academic. More on her at,