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Litany of Thanks Cover

paper • 60 pages • 14.95
ISBN-10:  1-884800-45-9

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Litany of Thanks

Joan Aleshire

ALWAYS

Always, she ended her notes,
always: old-fashioned, generous,
and I thought too fond:
Always, making my perpetual Best
seem stingy, pressing the page,
her claim with her firm blue scroll.

Her last card fell from a book
that fell at my feet-the cat,
the wind, her will calling it
to my attention-the morning
I learned she’d died, had been
dying a year, and not wanted me
to know: so close to begging,
too proud to beg.

On the card, two old-fashioned girls
read and dream over an open book,
blonde head close to brown one,
showing more than careful words
all she hoped for, all she’d have me
understand, making the pledge
that proves its truth daily:
Always, and under it, her name.

About the Author


  • "In these poems, elegy gives off its most ancient light: not to stun, but to stop us; not to save us but so we lose ourselves in the sweet and gritty how it was, and past that, into gratitude. Aleshire has written a large and deeply human book." —Marianne Boruch
  • "It has been said, Every poem an elegy. Loss is our subject, memory its frame, and 'grief makes a weight / that only song relieves' In Joan Aleshire's hushed, intelligent, moving elegies, to die means to have lived: the lover, the mother, the friend, the past itself. These poems, composed in those spaces 'between what's lost and what stays,' converse with her dear dead. They argue with them, question them, educate them in loss, and by so doing, move us to converse with our own dear dead. What more can we ask, except, with the author, 'What is it / like? What are you up to, where you are?' —Steve Orlen
  • "'Cold sharpens the stars' - The wisdom of Joan Aleshire's elegies lies in their graceful transformation of grieving into a reexamination of self and world. At the heart of this admirably mature and compelling collection is the 'afterlife,' not of the dead, but of the living, the relentless work of memory that resists finality, that lifts the glass from the portraits of the dead, exposing them again to time and perceiving in all its 'subtle distinctions' the beauty of the world they were part of. If memory itself isn't a kind of litany, these poems make it into one, with the intelligence of their craft and the quiet assurance of their voice." —Renate Wood

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