After they found her alone and cold
in the thick-walled flat on rue Georges Bizet
one quiet morning, wearing nothing
but mascara, the black net of her hair-
after the evening papers told
how her own heart had betrayed her-
its sudden scherzo, and the awful pause
when all the hidden currents of blood
that nourished her organs slowed, then stilled-
some thought that her heart had simply broken
from its speechless weight of love
for a man she could no longer have,
as if her life too were an opera stage
and the many death scenes she'd learned
were practice, a preparation. If music
is a progression of notes
are they moving toward or away?
Does Tosca, balanced on the precipice
of life, imagine her leap as flight
from the ordered control of her world-
the spotlights, heavy velvet curtains
opening only when an unseen hand
gives the cue to rise-
towards death's immeasurable rest?
We played her records endlessly
that last year of college, a tiny room
of lonely overfed women?Norma,
Medea, La Gioconda, Madama Butterfly?
her songs a diary of love and loss
sustained, made endurable
by music, that careful
language of the heart,
its second chance at expression.
We listened to it again
and again-poised briefly
at the entrance of life,
we who had nothing yet to lose.
The publication of this book was supported by a grant from the Greenwall Fund of The Academy of American Poets
"I love the mixture of edginess and calm that marks these poems, how their richness of texture and color is married to a compelling immediacy of address, how their lyrical impulse sustains itself in the grip of difficult memories. As unshowy as it is persuasive, Jennifer O'Grady's language reveals a speaking consciousness at ease among the split-level dimensions of its own exacting and alert awareness. White is a lovely, mature first collection." -- Eamon Grennan
"Jennifer O'Grady's first collection deservedly won the Mid-List Press First Series Award for Poetry. In White there is a glittering intelligence focused often on the way art reflects the workings of the heart. This is a sophisticated collection appealing to general readers of poetry, as well as people who love to read about the human connection to the world of art." -- ForeWord