Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thursday Review: Without by Donald Hall

I ordered "Without," Donald Hall's tribute to his late wife, Jane Kenyon, for two reasons: first, because Jane was a victim of leukemia as my husband was and second, because I love poetry. Poets say so beautifully what I feel but can't express: the beauty of love, the pain of parting, and the tenderness of memory.

These poems begin early in Jane's illness:

Why were they not
contented four months ago because
Jane did not have

I remember thinking that. Why didn't we appreciate every moment he was well? Because we didn't imagine what lay ahead.

Here's another bit from a hospital stay:

Daybreak and nightfall,
he sat by his wife at the hospital
while chemotherapy dripped
through the catheter into her heart.

From her deathbed:

"Dying is simple," she said.
"What's worst is...the separation."

The final poems are letters written to her after her death:

I cannot discard
Your jeans or lotions or T-shirts
I cannot discard your tumbles
Of scarves and floppy hats.
Lost, unfinished things remain
On your desk, in your purse
Or Shaker basket. Under a cushion
I discover your silver thimble.
Today when the telephone rang
I thought it was you.

Buy this book. It will speak to your heart.



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