Flood Bloom by Caroline Cabrera
H_NGM_N Books, 2013; 102 pp
Reviewed by Nathan Kemp


Caroline Cabrera and her speaker(s) build a new set of worlds in Flood Bloom, her first book, through a series of dioramas. The first half of the book represents the action of the flood—a natural force that is all about rebirth, while the second half of the book is the at-times-overwhelming bloom that comes with new experiences in a new place mixing with the compartmentalized memories of what came before (from “I Want to Walk"):

                                                                        I watch water go
from trickle to flow     then I bathe     a forest has a way       of
making me wonder where the centuries went I like and stare
skyward          this is not napping      but a way of becoming a
different species          like crawling into a cave to sleep

The lines above are an example of when Flood Bloom’s speaker(s) explores a different aspect of her self. While reading, I connected the earlier perspective to the later perspective with a tunnel—a way of traversing the speaker(s)’ subconscious mind through water and trees in a new place.

Some of my favorite parts of Cabrera’s book are when the speaker(s) is truly awed by nature in some way (from “Diorama: Full Moon Poem"):

When I sing,
the most handsome seahorse
swims to the edge of me
and looks out at me.
I am almost certain
he is the same one
every time. 

Nature only exists to amaze in Flood Bloom, but it’s in a sincere way. The speaker(s) feels blessed when the most handsome seahorse swims to her, but it is no coincidence—the seahorse is there for her, not in spite of her. This complex relationship creates a dilemma of ego, but I never feel like the speaker(s)’ perspective is limited or lacking presence.

Overall, I really like Flood Bloom as a complete collection—the poems that work with heavy caesura are among my favorites, as the internal breaks and prose poem format create an airy yet profound tone reminiscent of Heather Christle’s The Trees The Trees. Cabrera’s debut collection is one of those exciting first books because while it is easy enough to read for pleasure, it also has staying power with its small but profound lines.