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Afterlife

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I wake to leafless vines and muddy fields,
patches of standing water. His pocketknife

waits in my dresser drawer, still able to gut fish.
I pick up his green shirt, put it on for the fourth day

in a row. Outside, the rusty nail he hammered
catches me, leaves its stain on everything.

The temperature drops, the whole shore
filling with him: his dented chew can, waders,

the cattails kinked, bowing their distress.
At the pier, I use his old pliers to ready the line:

fatheads, darters, a blood worm jig. Today, the lake’s
one truth is hardness. When the trout bite,

I pull the serviceable things glistening into air.

Poem copyright ©2012 by Bruce Snider from his most recent book of poems, Paradise, Indiana, Pleiades Press, 2012. Poem reprinted by permission of Bruce Snider and the publisher.
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Afterlife

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  • Poet Bruce Snider grew up in rural Indiana and attended Indiana University as an undergraduate. He earned an MFA in poetry and playwriting from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a James A. Michener Fellow. Snider’s collections, which draw on his midwestern upbringing, include The Year We Studied Women (2003), winner of the Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry, and Paradise, Indiana (2012), recipient of the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize.
    In Paradise, Indiana, Snider depicts the experience of growing up gay in a small town and frankly addresses absence and loss, acknowledging the ordinary details of rural life and complicated loves; the collection is threaded with elegiac poems for a cousin. James Crews, reviewing the book for The Rumpus, noted, “Snider is a master of the quiet moment, his memory-driven narratives slowly unfolding until the accumulation becomes a kind of redemption.”
    Snider held a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in creative...

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