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About this poet

Laura Kasischke was born and raised in Grand Rapids, MI. She received an MFA from the University of Michigan in 1987.

In 1991, she published her first collection of poetry, Wild Brides (New York University Press). She is also the author of Where Now: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2017), which was long-listed for the National Book Award; The Infinitesimals (Copper Canyon Press, 2014); Space, In Chains (Copper Canyon Press, 2011); Lillies Without (Copper Canyon Press, 2007); Gardening in the Dark (Ausable Press, 2004); Dance and Disappear (University of Massachusetts Press, 2002); What It Wasn't (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2002); Fire and Flower (Alice James Books, 1998); and Housekeeping In A Dream (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1995).

She is the author of the short story collection If A Stranger Approaches You (Sarabande Books, 2013). She has also published ten novels, of which three have been made into feature films.

She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as several Pushcart Prizes and numerous poetry awards. She teaches at the University of Michigan, and lives in Chelsea, Michigan.

The Pain

Like the human brain, which organizes
The swirls and shades of the bathroom tiles
Into faces, faces
With expressions
Of exhaustion, of disdain. The
Virgin Mary in the toast of course
But also the penance in the pain, and the way
My mother invented
Plums and tissue paper, while
My father invented the type of
Sudden kindness
That takes you by surprise
When you’ve expected to be chastised
And makes you cry


 

About this poem:
"The poem's impulse is the same as the poem's subject—a grappling, out of hope?—with the idea that there must be some way to integrate into one's life, if necessary, the experience of physical pain. If I can make out faces and objects every morning (if I stare long enough) at the bathroom tile—or so I was thinking—surely there would be a way to make meaning out of this pain?"

Laura Kasischke

Copyright © 2013 by Laura Kasischke. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on March 27, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2013 by Laura Kasischke. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on March 27, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Laura Kasischke

Laura Kasischke

Laura Kasischke was born and raised in Grand Rapids, MI. She received an MFA from the University of Michigan in 1987.

by this poet

poem

In the mirror, like something strangled by an angel—this
woman glimpsed much later, still

wearing her hospital gown. Behind her—mirrors, and
more mirrors, and, in them, more cold faces. Then

the knocking, the pounding—all of them wanting to be
let out, let in. The one-way conversations.

poem

Recall the carousel. Its round and round.
Its pink lights blinking off and on.
The children’s faces painted garish colors against
an institutional wall. And the genetics. The
We won’t be here too long  ...    Do not step off  ...
The carousel? Do you recall? As if
we were our

poem

Their holiness, their loneliness, the song
they sing in certain barns
on sad, old farms
about the scales on which the love
was weighed, or the terrible
armchair onto which was tossed
a small girl’s nightgown once. The
widower’s broken ankle, and the summer
a transparent fish