Jun '03 [Home]

Editors' Preface

Between Strands of the Hammock

What shall I do with my thirties?

     Not accumulate stuff that looks
     back at you at forty and says,
     "So what?"

. . .

One's first summer as owner of a Catskill cottage sees the planting of butter lettuce behind the garage and the stringing of the classic hammock. One's last? Well, that's Klingsor's Letzter. One paints. Or Hesse did.

No loomed canvas affair, suspended on a cat's cradle of steel bars like overgrown paperclips, it had to be a knotted Guatemalan hung between the two tallest pines. And a double. The heavy-duty eyehooks driven into the resin-rank bark are sunken now, consumed by rings of fir girth, and I haven't the heart to gouge a new wound.

What's gone is where nothing was, crotchet around the waffles of air that fed the breathing, the sum total of it a net of light that bears the weight until even the bones sieve out, its vestige after countless subtractions just vapors of memory draped by the beneficent spider.

The fibrous complex of interstices knotted here, overlapped there, these connect the squares of unsayable. From the bellied screen door in Nicholas Johnson's "Back Home" to the white sheets snapping on the line as crows pick the plinths of Stonehenge in Laura Sherwood Rudish's "Souvenir of a Closed Rite," the poems in this anthology are replete with negative content.