What Grieving Was

By Lynn Emanuel b. 1949 Lynn Emanuel
That was not the summer of aspic   
and cold veal. It was so hot

the car seat stung my thighs   
and the rearview mirror swam

with mirage. In the back seat
the leather grip was noosed by twine.

We were not poor but we had   
the troubles of the poor.

She who had been that soft snore   
beside the Nytol, open-mouthed,

was gone, somewhere, somewhere   
there was a bay, there was a boat,

there was a scold in mother’s mouth.   
What I remember best

is the way everything came and went   
in the window of my brief attention.

At the wake I was beguiled
by the chromium yellow lemon pies.

The grandfather clock’s pendant
of unaffordable gold told the quarter hour.

The hearse rolled forward over the O’s   
of its own surprise.

Lynn Emanuel, “What Grieving Was” from The Dig. Copyright © 1984, 1992, 1995 by Lynn Emanuel. Reprinted with the permission of the author and the University of Illinois Press.

Source: The Dig (University of Illinois Press, 1992)

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Poet Lynn Emanuel b. 1949

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Family & Ancestors, Living, Social Commentaries, Relationships, Sorrow & Grieving, Money & Economics, Death

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Lynn  Emanuel

Biography

Lynn Emanuel is the author of several volumes of poetry. She sees her Hotel Fiesta (1984), The Dig (1992), and Then, Suddenly— (1999) as a triptych exploring the convention and flexibility of the book, and the agency of readers and writers. As poet Eavan Boland notes, “Lynn Emanuel’s poems have a rare power: they connect to the world through estrangement.”

The Dig received the National Poetry Series Award. Emanuel’s work has . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Living, Social Commentaries, Relationships, Sorrow & Grieving, Money & Economics, Death

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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