bodies like gardens

bodies like gardens

A review of bodies like gardens by Salena Wiener

Published on November 1, 2023

Salena Wiener’s chapbook is intimate and personal, focused on the relationship between the speakers and their bodies in relation to other people. Violence, delicacy, and decay darken the eighteen poems that are set within a tender ecology of the body. Wiener’s themes are strong, centring on heartbreak, both individual and generational, within the frame of nature in distress.

bodies like gardens
Salena Wiener

Cactus Press

my back lies flat

against soft sheets

as fists clench

& fingers fill with 

dirt and soil


I feel weeds push

my back, grasp my hips

pull me under

I gasp for breath but

cough up mud

The speaker’s journey arches from scorning a lover to reaching out to other women for support to grappling with Jewish identity as a young woman in the twenty-first century. The chapbook then closes all of these themes with the final poem “hips covered in dirt.” – a list poem that concludes the speaker’s journey and alludes to the optimistic next steps in her life. Wiener’s words will resonate with readers whose bodies are indeed as complex and resilient as gardens.mRb

Zoe Shaw is a writer and editor based in Montreal. She is the Managing Editor at carte blanche literary magazine.



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