by Judith H. Montgomery

These poems offer an intimate look at the long journey of treatment, an unflinching search for hidden meaning in medical tests and operations, the equipment that houses some new form of data, those splintered sparks of hope. Yet despite the harshness of medical reality, these poems render butterflies on our sleeves, “fireflies in late twilight” artfully knit into the pattern here, yielding healing insight. Montgomery’s craft is equal to her story, evoking startling images in exquisite lines, which break into our psyches, our own “watchful waiting.”

— Carol Barrett, Ph.D., author of Calling in the Bones and Pansies

Mercy is a rare book that honestly chronicles the odyssey of the caretaker, a grueling battle through time that anyone who’s witnessed cancer will recognize. It’s a world where random signs are welcomed as omens — deer crossing a trail, or a tree spared by lightning — but where the cold realities of fear and anger are never far away. Still, there’s wonder here, too; with an artist’s eye for detail, Judith Montgomery shows a reluctant reverence for the patterns and strange beauty of the machines, scans, and chemistry of modern medicine. In language both matter-of-fact and mythical, Mercy is more than a story of sacrifice or even devotion; it’s a reminder that a loved one’s illness is a journey taken by two people.

— Amy Miller, author of The Trouble with New England Girls and White Noise Lullaby