Nostalgia for a World Where We Can Live

Nostalgia for a World Where We Can Live

by Monica Berlin

Paperback(1st Edition)

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Monica Berlin’s Nostalgia for a World Where We Can Live resides at the turbulent confluence of relentless news cycles and the repeated rending of our interior lives. In Berlin’s poetry sorrow makes its own landscape—solitary, intimate, forward-looking. Whether we attempt to traverse it or choose bypass, her poems show us where we live, how we carry on.

These poems notice the day in the wind, the night tucked up to the train tracks, and a slipping-in of yesterday, memory-laden, alongside the promise of a more hopeful tomorrow. Here is the Midwest, vibrant and relic, in the ongoing years of collapse and recovery. Here the constant companionship of weather lays claim to its own field of vision. Here, too, devastation: what’s left after. Berlin reminds us we are at the mercy of rivers, oceans, earth, wind, rain, blizzard, drought, and each other. “Maybe what I mean / to say is that I’ve come to see all the names we might / recognize destruction by,” Berlin’s speaker discovers. “We might / sometimes, stupidly, call it love.”

On her familiar prairie of lyricism and tumult, beauty and ruin, Berlin’s poems insist, plead, and seek to reassure. In a collection both mournful and urgent, both a “little book of days” and a song, this poet meditates on loss, wonder, and always the consolations of language. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780809336838
Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press
Publication date: 10/11/2018
Series: Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Series
Edition description: 1st Edition
Pages: 88
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Monica Berlin is a professor of English at Knox College in Illinois. She is the coauthor, with Beth Marzoni, of No Shape Bends the River So Long, winner of the 2013 New Measure Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including Kenyon ReviewCincinnati ReviewColorado ReviewTheJournal,Ecotone, and Diagram.


Table of Contents

Nostalgia for a World Where We Can Live 1

What a year looks like: drenched. So soggy here. So much 5

No apples on the apple tree this summer, & if there were 7

Another late summer early quiet blue-skied morning, my son 9

On either end of this year, on either end of every goddamn year 11

When we turn the calendar's page, my little boy looking 12

The dark flurry of another morning purred 14

This afternoon the sky's making the kind of promises it can 15

Days the hours are no more fact than the unbelievable 17

Sometimes being here is like 19

To scale, yes, days to scale, even when they grow so cluttered 22

Just before the blood draw the other morning, I filled in small 24

We loved the rush hour most, the cars suit-filled, briefcase-heavy 29

Today, three flights up, with my whole body, I lifted 30

Some disasters are given names, others called after 31

The truth is I have trouble forgiving most things, although I've never minded 32

By rote the body learns nearly everything, after 34

It's true. There are places we'd rather be 35

Not quite another season, but almost, & on the window ledges 36

How I wish more things I read I misread, like the bodies in the mine 37

Because you're still in another time zone disparate things 38

The problem is the revolving door, this 39

Because I wasn't thinking/peninsula 41

If there's a joke more complicated than "knock-knock," more 43

Too lazy to lip-read in noisy rooms, the other night 44

A kind of stutter, that over & 45

Down the hall the accordion man turns into a door 47

Long before the horse pulls up lame there is the matter 48

Back to this wind, up against it even 51

The linens soften, now threadbare, just as I'm waking, small, in this 54

When morning was almost unrecognizable as morning 55

What the wind kicks up, what the waters trouble, even 56

The forecast's calling tor flurries tomorrow, & worry 58

At the new year, in the dark, I watched time 59

The lesson tonight nothing less than 60

In this, this snow-brightened light of a near-spring morning, I think of his glass 61

How quickly the body, when asked, forgets 62

Stay mouthed through 63

How quiet every end when it comes, briefest glimpse of a future 64

If all the love we'll know is the kind of love 65

Because all day the sky held back 66

Not only the night 67

Notes 71

Acknowledgments 73

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