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Synopsis

“My heart is bursting with homage as I / head off to a hostile eternity,” writes Jane Mayhall, now eighty-five, who wrote most of these poems in an urgent outpouring over the last few years. From the decades-outdated subway token in the bottom of her shoulder bag, which calls forth earlier days in New York City, to the violin her father practiced among the pantry’s jam jars in her Kentucky childhood, Mayhall plucks small treasures that bespeak her fierce devotion to life, with its clutter of memories and imperfections. In her tightly knotted, beautifully turned short poems, she elegizes a world not quite gone, and brings us into contact with some of her contemporaries, from Lincoln Kirstein to Theodore Roethke.

Chief among her cherished memories is her long bohemian marriage, which she recalls in a series of ravishing love poems to her late husband. In lines saturated with feeling she describes how she accommodates her grief at losing him and, as throughout this exquisite volume, how we must continue to greet life, in all its gorgeous strangeness.

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