Poetry chapbook, 42 pages, $10 cover price
($8 if ordered from the MSR Online Bookstore)
Release date: 2009
* * * Selected for publication as a result of finishing as a finalist in the 2008 MSR CHAPBOOK CONTEST * * *
Lynn Pedersen’s poems, essays and reviews have appeared in New England Review, Poet Lore, Southern Poetry Review, The Palo Alto Review, The Comstock Review, The Chattahoochee Review and Cider Press Review. She is a graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing Program. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
Theories of Rain fills me with delightful sadness. Pedersen turns grief into a beautiful, palpable object of soulful attention and affection. The poems shimmer. The poet’s steely-eyed toughness only undergirds the poems’ true tenderness.
–Nance Van Winckel
Lynn Pedersen is fascinated with science, and she often uses the images, facts and language of science as a vocabulary with which to explore other things, the nature of grief, parenthood, communication, the concept of distance. Here one finds Darwin, lunar impact craters, constellations, and poems about language, miscarriage, Michelangelo and Turner, middle age. There’s an incredible vitality in these poems and an abiding intelligence—of the heart as well as the mind—that makes Theories of Rain a rich and complex collection.
Sir Philip Sidney wrote that “poesy. . . is a speaking picture—with this end—to teach and delight.” And that is what these poems do, in precisely equal measure. They will delight readers of history, science, and philosophy, and will teach whose who seek a deeper connection with human emotion, with shadow along with light.
Nothing to do but return
to the apartment, cross the green
threshold, wedding gifts barely
three months out of their wrappings.
It was the plates that angered me most,
round like ova, fragile,
bleached like bones. I longed to take
each onto the small side porch,
smash it to atoms with a hammer–
one blow to the center–
repeat until I was squatting in a beach
of porcelain ground to a fine sand,
my knees bleeding.
Who’s to say all sand isn’t born
If I whittle myself down
to marrow, nucleus, mitochondria–
What’s the right word
for the smallest pocket of self?
Soul? Essence? Seed
you grieve in your hand?
A WAY WITH WORDS
Lately, I see language through the wrong end of a telescope; a distant figure on a hillside, walking away; not a child but reduced to the size of a child. Left me with a pocket of words like five scant beans. I used to know remonstrate, peremptory, emolument; I can’t read Hawthorne now without a dictionary. I recycle syllables like a wilted mantra: Keep your feet off the couch. Keep your feet off your brother. No going outside with bare feet. You see what I mean, what I’ve painted myself into. The fences I construct with language. It wasn’t always this way, filing synonyms away like socks in a drawer. Which five words do I teach to my children–work, pinnacle, feather, root, love? How to grow back a world from five dried beans? If I’m to start over, where is the manual that tells me under which sign of the zodiac to plant, how deep to furrow, and where-even-is the garden?
THE INFINITE DENSITY OF GRIEF
What no one tells you is grief
has properties: expands like a gas
to fill space and time–the four corners
of your room, the calendar
with its boxed days–
and when you think it can’t claim anything more,
collapses in on itself, a dying star,
compacting until not even a thimble
of light escapes.
Then grief sleeps, becomes
the pebble in your shoe you can almost
ignore, until a penny on a sidewalk,
dew on a leaf–
some equation detailing the relationship
between loss and minutiae
sets the whole in motion again–
your unborn child, folded and folded
into a question, or the notes
you passed in grade school
with their riddles–
What kind of room
has no windows or doors?