BOOK: The Uses of the Body by Deborah Landau (2015)

usesofbodyI read a lot of poetry, but rarely review collections here, partly because I tend to dip in and out, rather than sit down and read them cover to cover, and partly because it can be hard for me to characterize a collection of poetry in a way that seems useful or satisfying.

Aside from the word “astounding,” I often find it difficult to explain why something resonated with me, and without a theme or plot, something many collections lack, I’m not sure what else to say.

In the case of this book, though, not only can I apply the word “astounding,” but I can also describe both the collection and why it got to me. The Uses of the Body tells the story of a marriage, from wedding to childbirth, from stumblings to “Borderless, and the open days go on –.”

It’s a short collection, but every line packs a wallop, and that’s despite the fact a good chunk of them involve motherhood, something I have no personal experience with (my grief and her joy collided spectacularly somewhere around page 35; I’m pretty sure the whole neighborhood could feel it).

The rest, however, I know very well: aging, loss, romance ebb and romance flow, ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (RIP, Starman). Astounding is certainly what it is. You may wish to pick this book up. While you’re deciding, I will leave you with this:

One summer there was no girl left in me.
It gradually became clear.
It suddenly became.

In the pool, I was more heavy than light.
Pockmarked and flabby in a floppy hat.

What will my body be
when parked all night in the earth?

Breathe in. Breathe out.

I am not on the oxygen tank.
Twice a week we have sex.

The lithe girls poolside I see them
at their weddings I see them with babies on their hips
thickening I see them middle-aged.

I can’t see past the point where I am.
Like you, I’m just passing through.


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2 Responses to “BOOK: The Uses of the Body by Deborah Landau (2015)”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    (LIZ) I’m not a big poetry enthusiast (altho’ I still remember poems I had to memorize in grade school (ex.: “…The tintinnabulation that so musically swells From the bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells – From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells” – E.A.Poe). But a cousin gave me a book of Mary Oliver poems that are interesting. Are you familiar with / do you like her work?

  2. megwood Says:

    Yes!! Mary Oliver is wonderful! One of my favorites, in fact!

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