|Thresh & Hold
Poems by Veronica Patterson
Winner of the 2009 Gell Prize for Poetry
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From the introduction by poet Lola Haskins, who selected the book for the prize:
“What I like about Thresh & Hold is how naturally it makes its moves. As the story opens, the dreaming speaker is drawn into an alley strewn with flowers and fruit, which ... creates a sense of the forthcoming abundance ...”
“From this beginning, the poet journeys outward to her mother as a thousand-faced cup, to her father as a red-haired boy, to the samovar of a great-aunt, who ‘died of having lived.’”
“I can only congratulate the poet on a fine, heartfelt, delicate work.”
From Thresh & Hold. . .
The night you lay dying,
there was a space around the house
into which nothing untoward could come,
in which nothing but your dying could take place.
It was a hole in the field,
like the hush into which a child is born. As if
at all times, or whenever necessary,
shafts of quiet pierce the world – we don’t know
the ways of the soul.
But we know how artists make a map
of somewhere foreign, then telescope one spot forward,
to show details. You lay on the bed,
breathing hard. A lens of lamplight. Your husband
on one side of you, I on the other. We told small, round stories,
beads on a string we passed over you. As if
that were our job, while yours was counting
out your breaths to the last.
When I left, I took the waiting
with me. But it wasn’t waiting; there was no time in it.
I woke before dawn, with these words,
“Why do you seek the dead among the living?” The call came,
like news of someone arrived safely in another country.
I am always surprised that the word threshold
hinges on just one h. Each time, I write one for thresh
and one for hold.