GRIEF & OTHER ANIMALS
Patty Paine’s superb new collection arises from the nearly unbearable— a mother’s death, but most especially the senseless death of a husband. And, as the crucial elegiac poets know, grieving never truly arrives in “stages,” and never ends in “closure.” It is a process infinitely more intricate and nuanced than the platitudes suggest, and it ends, at best, in only a fraught and vexed consolation, what one of her poems calls, “a sorrow deeper than solace.” Yet even a vexed consolation can be a form of quiet triumph, and these poems—spare, heartbroken, and always utterly precise--arrive repeatedly at such a triumph. Patty Paine has written a book of bravery and consummate artistry.
Elegy, in making grief a living thing, brings the dead back to life. But elegy is also how we ask ourselves to accept, a touching of the wound to accustom ourselves to pain. This stunning book both resurrects and more truly buries, and does what the best poetry does – shows me the world of another, and in doing so, brings me closer to my own. I feel bitten by these haunted poems.