My kind of town

This is where I’ll be, from Wednesday to early Sunday. I’m leaving my husband and the kids to fend for themselves for five days, and plan on thoroughly enjoying myself. If you’re coming to AWP, too, please be sure to visit me at the Book Fair — Tupelo’s booths are 115/117.

I’m 31 weeks along now, and feeling decidedly waddlesque, thus it may be that I don’t get about as much as I’m hoping to. So you come to me!

 

Winter Ghosts

I’ve been negligent. As I become more obviously pregnant, folks are so obviously and loquaciously delighted, and yes, this new baby, this unexpected girl, is a much-needed bright star in a dark year. How lovely to talk about impending birth instead of death! But it’s exhausting being so grateful all the time. I find myself staying home, avoiding the phone.

I’m a tempest of hormones and grief, and the person I most want to talk with about it is gone, the source of my pain.

I don’t need bucking up. I don’t need to be told how lucky I am. Dad was 49 when he died; he never saw his children into adulthood, never knew his grandkids. And that sucks. And it sucks that they didn’t get to grow old together. Mum was at our weddings, got to be a grammie to our kids, but she still cried in her room at night, missing her lost-too-soon husband, her life’s companion. And having had Mum for her 68 years doesn’t make her death any less of a loss to me now.

Because wonderful things and terrible things happen right alongside each other. But the wonderful things don’t “make up for” the terrible things. They’re not two sides of the same coin or balances on a scale. Life never balances out, and some days that knowledge is harder to take than others.

Kevin Prufer has a smart piece up over at About a Word on sentimentality (which is a sort of reaction to or expansion on his involvement in the Symposium on Sentiment in the new issue of Pleiades), and he says “sentimentality often involve[s] reducing an emotionally complex situation into an emotionally simple one.” And I think that’s what I’m getting at. This urge to tidy things up. It’s not just that it’s premature now, because it’s always premature.

More than that, it’s a falsification. Life is ever so much more than glass half empty/ glass half full.

It’s good to be thankful, count your blessings. But it can become simplistically reactionary, a sort of emotional shorthand that denies acknowledgment and validity to the full range of individual experience. And when that denial comes from without, from others who insist you must “accent-uate the positive, elim-inate the negative,” it feels worse than a lie. It feels like an erasure.

Collected Poets Series

Thursday, February 2, 2012, at 7:00 pm, poets Ellen LaFleche and Jennifer Militello will continue the fifth season of the Collected Poets Series. Mocha Maya’s Coffee House, 47 Bridge St, Shelburne Falls, MA. ($2-5 suggested donation)

Ellen LaFleche’s manuscript, Workers’ Rites, won the Philbrick Poetry Prize and was recently published by the Providence Athenaeum. Her chapbook, Ovarian, was published in 2010. She has poems in Many Mountains Moving, Harpur Palate, New Millennium Writings, and Naugatuck River Review, among many others.

Jennifer Militello’s first collection, Flinch of Song, won the Tupelo Press First Book Award, and her second collection, Body Thesaurus, was named a finalist for the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award by Marilyn Hacker and is forthcoming from Tupelo Press. She is also author of the chapbook Anchor Chain, Open Sail.

Militello has been published widely in such journals as The…

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