“The terrain of these poems is filled with beautiful disconnects, startling juxtapositions of language and image, and a loping, mournful grace. A young woman unable to act on her desire explains, ‘The itch and tug of it was enough, most days, to leave me longing for no body at all, no awkward shape to make my stuttering way through the ordered world,’ then comes to understand what Van Gogh meant by ‘Suffering yet always rejoicing.’ A lakeside conversation becomes ‘our words doing laps between us.’ The red clothing of someone longed-for yet untouched becomes ‘A small bowl from which I drank, quietly and always alone.’ These are poems, repeatedly, of desire–poems in which ‘longing casts itself wide over our tiny lives like a net, a net of cinch and tug.’ But they are also poems of reconciliation, in which heaven is understood to be ‘A world built of love and hollow, of lack & lust & forgiveness, no different from this one, really, save a bit slower, perhaps.’ These are hymns and odes to desire, requiems for desire; they enchant even as they haunt.”
Cover art: “In Her Shadow,” copyright © 2005 by Kris Sanford; used by permission. Cover design: Kari Larsen.
Published: December 15, 2009 [125 copies]
21 pages. Japanese stab binding
Erin M Bertram is the author of seven chapbooks, including Windfall, which received the 2008 Lettre Sauvage Poetry Prize, and Body of Water, which received the 2007 Frank O’Hara Award. A former poetry fellow at Washington University in St. Louis and the recipient of a fellowship from Summer Literary Seminars, she currently teaches at the University of Missouri-St. Louis Honors College, tutors for Smarthinking, and is a prison writing mentor through PEN American Center.
Little flecks of grit & light in your teeth, as if you’d clamped down, once & for all,
on your latest version of heaven.
The one where everything is made up of the debris, in death, it eventually became.
A world built of love & hollow, of lack & lust & forgiveness, no different from this
one, really, save a bit slower, perhaps.
Gentler, & absolutely more humane.
And just as fragile.
Just as passing.