In Small Mothers of Fright, Tara Bray draws on her experiences as a mother struggling to strike a balance between protecting her daughter from the world’s perils and dazzling her with its many wonders. The birds that fill these pages convey a sense of fragility and uncertainty, while the rhythm of the seasons provides a comfort that promises the old will be made new again.
In a precise yet accessible style, Bray writes about fleeting actions and thoughts that, in sum, create the memorable, lasting moments of life. In one poem, a woman reflects on “the way the young self rushes in” as she blasts music from her past on the car radio, deliberately calling forth the contrast between past pain and present satisfactions. It is the world of the simple and overlooked—crows, wrens, food, tea, sermons, ragged coyotes, runners, yogis, poppies— that serves as something to hold to in spite of loss, human frailty, and unease.