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A butcher goes mad, begins to write poems; an adolescent girl buries her new breasts in the sand; a host walks through a cocktail party with his polished rifle, and Abraham raises his knife. "Love," Jean Nordhaus insists in an opening incantation is "not innocent." What unites these poems is their compassion and honesty; a wry acknowledgment of the road "between anger and love." History informs this view. Whether writing of weddings or hurricanes (real or imagined); whether comparing her aunt to Frederick the Great or the destruction of Nagasaki to that of Madame Butterfly, Nordhaus meditates on human frailty, pondering "the balance of wildness and control it takes to make a life." Death is the mountain, the rock against which the play of human passion is enacted. The dead "are not at peace," she writes in "Earth Music."
A fine pig, a carved stone, a deathless eulogy. They would exchange all this and more to feel again the touch of rain, the brush of silk on skin, the first faint pricking of appeasable desire.
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Jean Nordhaus's earlier books of poetry include My Life in Hiding, A Bracelet of Lies, and The Porcelain Apes of Moses Mendelssohn. She lives in Washington, DC. and teaches at The Writer's Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
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