I Praise My Destroyer
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In her first new book of poetry since Jaguar of Sweet Laughter, poet and naturalist Diane Ackerman combines her deep understanding of the world with her immense passion for language to craft richly sensual poems that "honor all life/wherever and in whatever form/it may deal."
Imbued with ravishing imagery, these exuberant and lyrical explorations of aging, longing, and death demonstrate Ackerman's full engagement with every aspect of life's process. Ackerman muses on the confines of therapy sessions, where she intersects "twice a week/in a painstaking hide-and-seek/making do with half-light, half-speak"; relishes the succulent pleasure of eating an apricot, with its "gush of taboo sweetness"; and imagines the "unupholstered voice, a life in outline" in her stunning elegy to C. S. Lewis. Whimsical, organic, and wise, the poems in I Praise My Destroyer affirm Ackerman's place as one of the most enchanting poets writing today.
the Night, and she is co-editor, with Jeanne Mackin, of an anthology, The Book of Love. Ms. Ackerman has received the Academy of American Poets’ Lavan Award, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation, among other recognitions. Honored as a Literary Lion by the New York Public Library, she has taught at several universities, including Columbia, Cornell, William & Mary, and Ohio University. Her essays about nature and human nature have appeared in National
and reach, I know you’re searching for lost words of redemption, and hope you find some with me, where the wild flowers. THERAPIST Serial lover, seducer of hearts, you ply weapons dangerous and keen: words flashing like stilettos. You could coax the polestar from the night. Castanets are playing, as we dance to rhythms of a sultry flamenco. I do not always wear the right costume. As you flay and betray me, I secretly hope that time wounds all heels. With Freudian sangfroid,
began with: A gazebo in a Japanese garden in St. Louis. From its bench, you see a shagbark hickory, blunted off at twelve limbs, holding forth a spray of new branches…. YOU WILL THINK THIS A DREAM Headline over an article about the invention of electricity, Ladies’ Home Journal, 1915 Hypnotized, it leaps through coiled metal to drive cauldrons wild in a parenthesis of flame. Stroke the wall and daylight breaks. Twist a dial, summer purrs through. With pocket inferno,
fall. My land, the cunning; my word, the power. My clock keeps running and spilling the hours that are nobody’s burden, everyone’s load. Somewhere in that sandglass love is stowed, shifting and settling, in creases, in corners, in the feet of the bellman, in the grip of the mourners. It’s the best sort of trouble (everyone has a story). Every heart has a myth that keeps it from glory. It’s a beast and a bother, a landslide of hurts, yet a feast, and the only halo that fits. THE
manna will fall from your eyes into my gaping heart, whose spinning drives me to my knees. Clutching the hot poker of prayer, I crouch beside nettles, and dare hope the way blind horses leap. How I long to hold your face like a bouquet and inhale the mysterious scent of your dreams when the summer grass is green as a dye. Encircled by your arms, I would take flight, my hips flap like herons in slow even beats. Of course, in time, that boiler-down of savory days, night will narrow my