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Short Fiction
This Brightness
by William Reichard       

Price: $13.00
104 pages
trade paper
ISBN: 9780922811731
LCCN #: 2007001153


This is an ode to the belly.
This is a celebration of

all that once was concave;
the way shirts bagged out

from a thin waist,
an embarrassment of skinniness.

This is the belly of a man
at forty. A ponderous thing

that has never seen the inside
of a gym since high school.

A thing driven to expansion
by the betrayal of metabolism

and a sedentary life.
This is the story

of a shrinking and growing waist;
a collection of pants

in three sizes; the should have
gone on a diet; should have

joined the Y while they
were having that sale

This is the body in the mirror.
This is the body in the bathrobe.

This is the belly that confronts
when one sits up in bed,

round down there where
once it was flat.

This is not about bodies
on TV or film; not those

muscled sculptural marvels.
This must not be about

the guilt those beauties induce;
the way they entice, tug us

between the world of I want
and I want to be that.

This is the story of the belly
of a man who looked away,

didn’t see himself expand.
This is about age.

This is the way the body
moves, naked, down the hall

at dusk; the way fading light
plays over his new/old skin;

the way we learn to begin
again, in experienced bodies,

the ones that grow older
and cannot be stopped,

those we must learn to inhabit well,
those we must come to love.


"This Brightness is as radiant as it is precise, rare not only in the generosity of its attentions, its resourcefulness in illuminating the strangely familiar, the domestic otherness of the near at hand, but also in its addiction to joy, even at its most heartbreaking, its affectionate take on a realm rendered with such economy, such grace, that it risks the most unabashed engagements without relaxing into the sentimental. However gripping or quiet the transformation, there is maturity of sensibility here, neither restrictive nor ostentatious, impoverished nor decadent, aloof nor brash. Such is the sureness of the poet’s imaginative care, his verbal reverence, the power of the personal clarified by modesty. A deeply restorative book."—Bruce Bond, author of Cinder

"'The soul conspires at last,' William Reichard writes, 'to throw us into a world where we belong .' But the home the poet finds, in mid-life, is no position of ease but instead a center for the search for what will suffice—a quest mirrored in the heroic life of the early twentieth-century painter, Marsden Hartley, who saw himself in the lineage of Walt Whitman and Hart Crane. Reichard's homage to Hartley is a way, in these searching poems, to 'stitch the broken world back together.'"—Mark Doty


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