Marvin uses repetition in a couple different ways throughout her collection. Within a single poem, she will repeat the same word throughout the entire poem. For example, in “Flowers, Always” always is constantly repeated in every couple lines. Marvin uses this repetition to create a sense of longing, as if the speaker of the poem is in a state of always wanting, but never really satisfying that desire for the second character, known only as “you” and “your voice.” This longing, or even desperation, is accompanied by a tone of violence in images like “it looks like the bruise I found/flowering on my knee…I knock my knees blue/and scabbed crawling/toward you, wanting flowers,/and always, always, always” (67).
Additionally, an often more playful use of repetition, Marvin will repeat a word or root in a single line to create a lyrical effect, such as in “Flood Museum” when she writes that “slowly liquid in its palm/Tiny lights blink lights lighting the way” (81). In order to emphasize the lyric, she then repeats the sounds following that repetition as alliteration and/or consonance: “…lights lighting the way water went by gravity made tremendous” (81). In this particular instance, the lyrical writing highlights the water imagery as the sounds subtly transition from the end t’s to the w’s and finally back to the t’s and similarly sounding d’s, like a wave.
Although much of her repetition is focused within the individual poems, Marvin transitions between poems through the repetition of ideas, which builds deeper meaning in later poems. For instance, in her poem “Muckraker,” Marvin mentions that there is “a problem:/If you can’t trust people, you can’t trust books, since/books are people and people are books” (36). The idea of books as untrustworthy again pops up in “Lying My Head Off,” a poem in which the speaker must deal with lying her head off, “and so off it rolled…The house fattened with books, made me//grow to hate books, when all the while/it was only books that never claimed/to tell the truth” (47). With “Muckraker” in mind, you can better understand why the speaker would hate books in this poem and why her hatred for books is juxtaposed to her hatred of “him,” since the speaker can’t trust people or books (47). Not only does this repeated imagery and content inherently connect the poems in different parts of the book, but they also connect the poems through the speaker’s anger in each of the poems, particularly in regards to her relationships with people, or at least this man who is a subject of several other works.