Counting by Sevens

Counting by Sevens

Stephanie Bock

I have always been a lover of poetry and have been drawn, particularly to the voices of writing that discuss the sides of life that we do not ordinarily talk about. Ann Wallace is one of those extraordinary authors that is not afraid to bring up the dark and traumatic sides of our lives, and as she does so, she writes it in a way that makes it feel so incredibly raw and real.


This book is broken up into three succinct sections, the first being of more political nature. This section tackles gun violence, sexual assault, and the horrors of the conditions at the border. These topics are very far far-reaching and relevant today, as everyone can relate to and these are issues we can see around us and that affect us daily. For example, in her poem, “Valentine’s Another Day”, Wallace tells tells the story of a mother being worried of getting a text of a looming threat from a school shooter. We, as a reader, half shrug and say “that’s life” because these threats and drills have become so commonplace, but then when you find yourself shrugging, you realize there is a fatal flaw in our system. Using strong imagery, she forces us think deeply about the society in which we live and the world around us in a way that we do not often do, or like to do. For example, she mentions children under silver blankets and ​shoes laid out at the White House in memory to the dead. However, we ​should ​think about these events.


The second part of this book, “Interlude”, is more meditative as it focuses on her life in New England and her children growing up. This section is a nice reflection period, as she looks back on all of the fond memories of her life. One excellent example is “A World So Still”, “My brothers and I burrowed in the snow, for hours, digging a cave so large / that two or / three could sit inside.” she recalls from her New England childhood. Many lines such as this would resonate with readers as it did for me, as I grew up with two brothers myself and remember building many snow forts fondly. This section is almost the opposite of the previous one, as it forces me to pause realize that the world is not all bad.


Finally, the last section is “Body Rising”, which covers her cancer and recovery through her twenties and multiple sclerosis. All of which has had a massive effect on her and her outlook on life, which we hear in her poetry. We can hear how frightened and confused she is by this the weight of all of this news, that she feels literally “out of control”. Throughout this section she tells her experiences with a sense of rawness and honesty that is not often seen. I applaud Ann Wallace for having the strength to come out and share her experiences with us so personally.