The best ghost stories combine a preternatural thrill with a palpable sense of melancholy — close, breathless, and mournful, filled with longing and loneliness.
This arresting poem also does the surprising: Dorianne Laux adds a touch of lightness that makes the sorrow both more manageable and more poignant.
Born January 10, 1952, in Augusta, Maine, American poet Dorianne Laux worked as a maid, gas station manager, sanatorium cook, and donut holer before earning a BA in English from Mills College in 1988. She was first inspired to write after hearing a poem by Pablo Neruda; this is a good Neruda poem.
Since then, she’s written 10 books and is currently a professor at North Carolina State University’s creative writing program. Her most recent collection is Only as the Day Is Long: New and Selected Poems; it was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2019.
In an interview, she said, ‘Craft is important, a skill to be learned, but it’s not the beginning and end of the story. I want the muddled middle to be filled with the gristle of the living.’ Read more poems by Dorianne Laux at PoetryFoundation.org.
Top image courtesy of Cody Board/Unsplash.
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