PICNIC IN THE CEMETERY by Constance Urdang


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Not knowing any better, the little girl in Constance Urdang's title poem trespassed on sacred ground to play among the tombstones. ""The fathers were furious!"" . . . though the dead didn't mind at all. They, the dead, are as much a presence in Urdang's family as children, husbands and blood relatives; they're as omnipresent as the faceless unborn. Some of these poems are simply and specifically about ""how hard it is to live""; all are concerned with the flesh's betrayal of itself. Urdang's at her best when she adopts the persona of a gnarled old woman--though she can take on any visage from virgin to crone. ""Mother,"" for instance, appears as a mangy old cat who has to be put to sleep. Men are something else again: ""Her Daddy"" is a leather boy and there are three versions of ""Adultery."" An infant named ""It"" is a screaming cannibal even if later on ""Abortion"" and childlessness represent the ultimate emptiness. You already know these conditions for existence and accept them as you accept these poems--with, as editor Richard Howard says in his introduction, ""a kind of somatic resignation.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1975
Publisher: Braziller