Among the Losses & Poetry Class, Ash Wednesday


Among the Losses


My lamentations have shaken loose locusts.

They whir in the burned-out nave of my body.


In the shower, whole decades wash from my body.

A girl’s hairless limbs emerge naked from the spray.


Among the losses: tube tops, demicups, skin-kissing

chocolate lace. Dreamy clutter of the desired body.


Obsessively, I imagine Christmas photographs without me.

Gold and crimson. My son. Another woman’s body.


Among the losses: death as metaphor, as my body

floating in salt waves, carried back to the waters.


Many days, I want to throw my fists against God’s body.

But nothing, nothing.


Hold me, all you saints and angels. Don’t let life,

like a child struggling in my arms, climb out of my body.




Poetry Class, Ash Wednesday

Your death questions my life.

                     —Johannes Bobrowski



I store the empty bottle of maple syrup

Kristin tapped in ’12 (her last) in the fridge door.

Sweet William Amber, she ’d written on the label.

She loved Emily Dickinson, England, and bonfires.

Death was a cold broth. Sickness spread

through her bones like burrs on socks.

No peace, no atonement, no relief.

I want everyone to understand the grief.

There is no happy turn, no radiant volta.

I won’t offer a lit lantern or fist of violets.

One of my students stays after class.

What do you mean by dust to dust?

she asks me—curious rabbit, owlet.

My smile’s vulpine. I mean you, girl. Us.


Anya Silver (1968–2018) published four books of poetry, and her work has appeared widely. In 2018 she received a Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry. The poems in this issue are from “Saint Agnostica,” a manuscript Silver completed just before her death in August 2018 after more than a decade of battling breast cancer.