I find this poem resistant to description, though plainly it is about loss, both anticipated and realized.  

Its moves are not unfamiliar, forward and also backward in time, collecting images, before finally settling on the present. Still, this poem rattles something loose and jagged in me. I've traced the sensation to the work's simultaneous resistance and embrace of the figurative. The poem presents this tension directly: "Among the losses: death as metaphor." What should be figurative isn't—"decades wash from my body." The speaker, being treated for cancer, emerges from the shower hairless as a girl. What finally is figurative—"life, / like a child struggling in my arms,"—we can hardly bear to look at. 

Among the Losses
By Anya Silver

My lamentations have shaken loose locusts.
They whir in the burned-out nave of my body.

In the shower, whole decades wash from my body.
A girl’s hairless limbs emerge naked from the spray.

Among the losses: tube tops, demicups, skin-kissing
chocolate lace. Dreamy clutter of the desired body.

Obsessively, I imagine Christmas photographs without me.
Gold and crimson. My son. Another woman’s body.

Among the losses: death as metaphor, as my body
floating in salt waves, carried back to the waters.

Many days, I want to throw my fists against God’s body.
But nothing, nothing.

Hold me, all you saints and angels. Don’t let life,
like a child struggling in my arms, climb out of my body.

This poem was published in the Fall 2019 issue of The Georgia Review: "The poems in this issue are from “Saint Agnostica,” a manuscript Silver completed just before her death in August 2018 after more than a decade of battling breast cancer."

The Postscript

This email has a fancy new header thanks to artist Margot Lebleu. Check out more of her work on Instagram. All of her illustrated ladies look like they could light me on fire with their brains, which is my preference re art. 

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Sonia Feldman · 2529 Detroit Ave · Cleveland, OH 44113 · USA

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