The Selvage

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2012-10-23
  • Publisher: Lightning Source Inc

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In eloquent poems about Ariadne, Theseus, and Dido, the death of a father, a bombing raid in Lebanon, and in a magnificent series detailing Masaccio's Brancacci frescoes, The Selvagedeftly traces the "line between" the "wonder and woe" of human experience. Keenly attuned to the precariousness of our existence in a fractured worldof "how little the world will spare us"Gregerson explores the cruelty of human and political violence, such as the recent island massacre in Norway and "the current nightmare" of war and terrorism. And yet, running as a "counterpoint" to violence and cruelty is "The reigning brilliance/ of the genome and/ the risen moon...", "The/ arachnid's exoskeleton. The kestrel's eye." The Selvageis the boldest evidence yet that Linda Gregerson's unique combination of dramatic lyricism and fierce intelligence transcends current fashions to claim an enduring place in American poetry.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. v
The Selvagep. 1
Pajama Quotientp. 4
Slight Tremorp. 7
Constitutionalp. 8
Slaters' Measurep. 10
Catchp. 17
Lately, I've taken top. 21
Getting and Spendingp. 25
Ariadne in Triumphp. 31
Theseus Forgettingp. 35
Dido Refuses to Speakp. 38
From the Life of Saint Peterp. 55
Her Argument for the Existence of Godp. 65
Blinkp. 68
Ovid in Exilep. 71
Varennap. 74
"… More Instructive Than a Long Trip to Europe"p. 76
Still Lifep. 79
Notesp. 87
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.


The Selvage

So door to door among the shotgun
shacks in Cullowhee and Waynesville in
our cleanest shirts and ma’am
and excuse me were all but second

nature now and this one woman comes
to the door she must have weighed
three hundred pounds Would you be
willing to tell us who you plan to vote

for we say and she turns around with
Everett who’re we voting for? The
black guy says Everett. The black guy
she says except that wasn’t the language

they used they used the word
we’ve all agreed to banish from even our
innermost thoughts, which is when
I knew he was going to win.

At which point the speaker discovers,
as if the lesson were new,
she has told the story at her own expense.
Amazing, said my sister’s chairman’s

second wife, to think what you’ve
amounted to considering where you’re from,
which she imagined was a compliment.
One country, friends. Where when

we have to go there, as, depend
upon it, fat or thin, regenerate
or blinkered-to-the-end, we shall,
they have to take us in. I saw

a riverful of geese as I drove home across
our one-lane bridge. Four hundred of them
easily, close-massed against the current and
the bitter wind (some settled on the ice) and just

the few at a time who’d loosen rank to
gather again downstream. As if
to paraphrase. The fabric
every minute bound

by just that pulling-out that holds
the raveling together. You were driving
all this time? said Steven. Counting
geese? (The snow falling into the river.)

No. (The river about
to give itself over to ice.) I’d stopped.
Their wingspans, had they not
been taking shelter here, as wide as we are tall.

Slight Tremor

The fine fourth finger
of his fine right hand,

just slightly, when
he’s tracking our path

on his iPhone or
repairing the clasp

on my watch I
will not think about

the myelin sheath.
Slight tremor only,

transient, so
the flaw in the

pavement must
have been my

mother’s back.


Smothered up in gauze, the sky’s
   been healing for a week or

two, conserving its basin of gruel.
   The shops have closed

in sympathy. The ferry’s ministrations
   barely mark the hour. And just

when we’d convinced ourselves that
   beauty unsubdued betrays

a coarsened mind, the fabric starts
   to loosen, lift, and daylight

all unblighted takes a gaudy good-
   night bow. What sodden

indistinction just an hour ago had all
   but persuaded us not to

regret resumes its first divisions:
   slate from cinder, ash

from smoke, warm dapple-gray from
   moleskin, dove- from

Quaker-gray from taupe, until
   the blackwater satins unroll their

gorgeous lengths above a sharpening
   partition of lake-and-loam.

Give up yet? says the cirro-strato-sable
   brush. Then watch

what I can do with orange. And,
   flood-lit, ink-besotted, so

assails the upper atmosphere that
   all our better judgment

fails. The Alps? They’ve seen it all
   before. They’ve flattened

into waiting mode. The people?
   Flat bedazzled. But

in fairness had a shorter way to fall.

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