Only the Fallen Can See, by Jude Neale: A Bowen’s Own Review

Review by Richard Labonté

A grandfather strokes a grandchild’s chest “to find those places that make him
breathe hard.” A man tells a woman she is beautiful, “though I haven’t bathed for
three days…and can only look at the wall.” A young girl has “been planning my
funeral since I was ten.” A poet lies in a bed of balled tissues, where “somewhere
in the tangle are the pills to pull me through this labyrinth.” The labyrinth is bipolar
disorder, and that grandchild, that woman, that young girl, and that poet are
Neale.

In this evocative, provocative collection, at once tender and terrifying,
reflective and raging, hurt and healed, Neale lays bare a life of emotional highs
and despairing lows and, often enough, of stable, contented middles: “We sing
ourselves back, and become once again whole.” Some poetry is external, drawn
from the world beyond self. Other poetry is internal, drawn from the world within
self. Neale’s collection straddles the divide with riveting style and compelling
content.