Mini Book Review: Earth, Mercy by Mary Rose O'Reilley

Mary Rose O'Reilley's first book of poems, Half Wild, is a vibrant and emotional meditation on the soul, but her second collection, Earth, Mercy, is not so easy to categorize. Like Half Wild, the poems in this book are the most effective when they recognize the complexity of earthly conditions colliding with religious ideals; "Genesis" and "Eve's Dog" are great examples, not to mention start the book at a highpoint. However, things get murkier as the collection wears on and delves into meditations about rural life. Of course, many great poems have been written about this material, but O'Reilley's are more sketches rather than fully realized poems, like "Weather," which makes broad claims such as "God sent the waters" but culminates with the underwhelming, "It has rained for three weeks." These sketches feature lovely images, but sometimes that is all they offer. Fortunately, the poet keeps the book aloft with strong poems about love and family, like "The Plain Speech," a consideration of commitment and gratitude. As such, Half Wild is a more consistent collection, but if you are craving a sustained mood piece, Earth, Mercy has its charms.

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