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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
The white bowls in the orderly
cupboards filled with nothing.

The sound
of applause in running water.
All those who've drowned in oceans, all 
who've drowned in pools, in ponds, the small 
family together in the car hit head on. The pantry

full of lilies, the lobsters scratching to get out of the pot, and God
poem

My mother begged me: Please, please, study
stenography...

Without it
I would have no future, and this

is the future that was lost in time to me

having scoffed at her, refusing
to learn the only skill I’d ever need, the one

I will associate forever now with loss, with

2
poem

A cold wind, later, but no rain. 
A bus breathing heavily at the station. 
Beggars at the gate, and the moon
like one bright horn of a white
cow up there in space. But

really, must I think about all this
a second time in this short life? 
This crescent moon, like a bit
of