The Body He Left Behind

In The Body He Left BehindReese Conner’s poems masterfully navigate grief’s complicated liminal spaces where love, menace and meaning are often inextricably bound together. A deceased father and pet are both permanently gone and ever present. “And isn’t that/the scariest thing? He is always and never,” Conner writes about his father in Bring Flowers to What You Love. “I already expected broken things—/the slur of his aging body,” he says in Lewis about the moment he fell in love with his cat. And throughout the book, Conner compels us to consider how something is lost, how we do violence to those we care about when we attempt to shape them to meet our needs. A lover tries to fit a new love interest into “a template” her nature does not easily accommodate in I Was Innocent After All.  Squint at the The Cost of an Egg’s lovely scene of domesticated farm animals and you’ll see “wild,” but squint harder and all you’ll see is “human.” Yet, Conner confronts these challenges with moments of sly humor. I still find myself smiling at his description of the doorstep where the cat leaves gifts as “the necropolis of rodents.” The Body He Left Behind is a powerful, thought-provoking read and available here.

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