The Anti-Grief

The Anti-Grief

by Marianne Boruch


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What to do with the everything crossing one’s path? Everything for and against, upside down and inside out, grief first then its dogged shadow life, which could be joy. In The Anti-Grief, Marianne Boruch challenges our conceptions of memory, age, and time, revealing the many layers of perception and awareness. A book of meditations, these poems venture out into the world, jump their synapse, tie and untie knots, and misbehave. From Emily Dickinson’s chamber pot to meat-eating plants, from an angry octopus to crowds of salmon swimming upstream, Boruch’s imagery blurs the line between natural and supernatural. And of course there is grief—working through grief, getting over grief, living with grief, and in these magnificent poems, anti-grief.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781556595684
Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
Publication date: 10/08/2019
Pages: 96
Sales rank: 1,201,644
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Marianne Boruch’s nine books of poetry include Eventually One Dreams the Real Thingand Cadaver, Speak (Copper Canyon, 2016 and 2012), three essay collections, and a memoir, The Glimpse Traveler, about hitchhiking in the US in 1971(Indiana, 2011). Among her honors are the Kingsley-Tufts Award for The Book of Hours (Copper Canyon, 2011), four Pushcart Prizes, plus fellowships and/or residencies from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, and two Fulbright Professorships, the University of Edinburgh in 2012, and the University of Canberra, in Australia. She’s been a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome and at two national parks, Denali and Isle Royale. Boruch taught at Purdue University for thirty-one years, was the founder of the MFA program there, becoming a Professor Emeritus in May, 2018. She continues to teach in the low-residency Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College where she has been on faculty since 1988.

Read an Excerpt


Day after day of rain. A ticket straight to
the mild-mannered hell of rethinking whatever,

the drive to Econo-Foods: not a lot of grief in that.
You need staples-bread, rice, eggs.
Here's a list: almonds, yogurt, all the little
anti-griefs add up.

Did I tell you? my grandfather sings from the grave.
They have my old Philco here.
I know all about your world of godawful and too bad.

I keep driving. In rain. Some luck required. Stop light.
Flashy cars on both sides playing radios too loud.
Ear damage! I used to shout out the window,
my boy in the front seat trying hard to shrink, not to know
who is that crazy at the wheel.

Grandfather likes saying: what? Half-deaf even now.

Half a lot of things, anytime. Half, what gives?
giving way. If there is a we or a you or an I finally.
He'd cup an ear if he had an ear.

So it is, the first anti-grief, a feather he picked up.
My childhood, walking with
the oldest man I ever, 1874 his
start date. Alarm and Should Have, two roads
he would not cross, and Consequence
a street over, he ignored completely. Always
an eye out for the great
small peculiar.

A feather. Sometimes handed to me. Or he'd
oil a clock with it right off the curb.
Into a pocket.


in exile, ganged up in this greenhouse of living ache
and want, shabby glassed-in room with a door
propped open under a scribbled please, keep locked
underlined times two. Who wrote that, what

guardian of the wordless deep to
abet these bullies on their bright faded stalks
breathing in my carbon, giving back
oxygen. The invisible exchange-love that first.

But trays and trays of dirt growing miniature time bombs,
tiny eyelids with a clamshell look, eyelashes if
brushed even slightly, they go for me. One clamps up
quick as I pull away. I'm its feed me right now, I'm prey

then a total wash-out, too big for its little, a tease.
Slowly it re-opens a wired-up watch on this ocean of
sunlit muggy air, me swimming through my so important
afternoon to supper, to sleep. What to dream at night-

who knows how ruthless a small empty creature can be
to swallow all anything that happens by, to give it
an afterworld, a shot, a slow dissolve.
I have eyelids. I have eyelashes that shut down tight.

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