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New Hampshire Poet Showcase
From NH Poet Laureate, Pat Fargnoli

At my request, The NH Arts Council is providing me with a link to the poet laureate page on their website in order that I may showcase poems by a number of New Hampshire Poets. The poets will be by my invitation only, but I plan to include both the famous and the less famous ....those who are seriously working at poetry craft from many areas of the state. A different poet and poem will be presented every 2 weeks.

Featured Poet:  Nancy Lagomarsino, Hanover

nancy lagomarsino
Born in Montpelier, Vermont, Nancy Lagomarsino graduated with a B.A. in English from Northeastern University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Vermont College. She is the author of three books of prose poems, Sleep Handbook (Alice James Books, 1987), The Secretary Parables (Alice James Books, 1991), and Light from an Eclipse (White Pine Press, 2005).  Light from an Eclipse is a memoir covering the years of her dad’s Alzheimer’s disease.  She has lived in Hanover NH since 1974.

Of her featured poem, Nancy writes:

“We need the bodies” appears in Light from an Eclipse midway through my Dad’s journey into Alzheimer’s disease. At that point, his deterioration had proceeded enough to make my visits to Cape Cod exceedingly stressful.  I would return to New Hampshire with doubts about whether I’d managed to rise to the occasion and fears about what the future would ask of us.  Writing was my main therapy, along with a support group for those affected by the disease.  This is one of my favorite poems from the book, because it sprung fully formed, requiring almost no revision.  The trigger was hearing someone say she didn’t understand why people want the bodies back so much.  It made me mad, because my dad’s brain was vanishing; the poem was my response. 

We Need the Bodies

Bodies from TWA Flight 800 lost in the sea, bodies from the ValuJet crash sucked below the surface of the Everglades, never to be reclaimed, never to receive a parting kiss.  Bereft families hang suspended between death and grief.

Since these tragedies, I’ve heard people say they don’t understand why the families want the bodies back so much.  “The spirit has departed,” they insist.  “It’s just a body.”

Just a body.  But the body has a spirit, too, the same spirit that inhabits seashells, iridescent nests shining in the water’s branches with the memory of once-held life.  Much of my father’s spirit has flowed into his body, to fill the hollows left by disease.  I touch him often, for solace, seeming to touch spirit more than flesh.

Of course, we need the bodies.  At death, the body’s spirit departs slowly, having much to occupy it.  We can gather the body in our arms and say, Good-bye, I love you.  Each touch is a thought to the body’s spirit.  The impatient soul hurries ahead, turning to wait for the body’s spirit to catch up, because the soul misses the body, though the two often have been at odds.  The soul throws a comforting arm around the body’s spirit, and they go forward together, the body’s spirit with a dragging step, the soul like quicksilver.

We need the bodies.

Click here for a list of previous Poet Showcases

Last updated: September 19, 2007

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