books poetry


1. I talked to my sister in northern Italy and it’s not just me who’s scared and this feels comforting.

2. She says, I’m not even worried, I’m healthy, my family’s healthy, yet I find myself now and then, well, my chest tightens, breaths are hard to suck in, blow out. My throat becomes little.

3. And I’m not even worried.

4. I jump from one piece of writing to the next. I was reading Olga Tokarczuk’s Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead and I know what she’s doing, this semi-comic, over the top recreation of Blake in rural Poland, I get it, but passages like this leave me breathless with anxiety:

We live in a state of siege. If one takes a close look at each fragment of a moment, one might choke with terror. Within our bodies disintegration inexorably advances; soon we shall fall sick and die. Our loved ones will leave us, the memories of them will dissolve in the tumult; nothing will remain. Just a few clothes in the wardrobe and someone in a photograph, no longer recognized.

5. I don’t think this is the message of the novel. I believe this is who its quirky, tenacious, indomitable protagonist is. And I also believe Tokarczuk is giving voice to our time of anxiety and grieving.

6. Still not a soothing reading for me now.

7. I flit from poet to poet, grab a morsel here and there.

8. I seek solace. Good, hardy, luminous lines. The feeling that someone is hoping hard out there, like me.

You asked for beauty, and one morning, a small blue eggshell on the stoop, shattered open, its contents gone

Likely eaten

M asked if I’ve ever made a choice to live and why

I lied the way you lie to the suicidal

A few times, I said—not Most days

Most mornings

No, not morning

Morning I am still new

Still possible, I’m still possibly

Usually by 3:00

(from “Beauty” by Solmaz Sharif; image LitHub)

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