I swear I once heard someone
say there are only so many images a body can take
before the skeleton is stolen in light. Is it a given
that every emergency ends
in joyus resuscitation? Little sleeve, I left
my teenage bones to winter
as X-rays in a folder in a drawer.
— from “Landscape in which I am Obliterated by Light”
We are all another one of Life’s little conditions. All wondering what happens outside the self when everything outside the self is pain and anguish and blurry. We all deal with loss in our own way. The cliche is to say there’s no handbook to grieving, but Cori A. Winrock’s Little Envelope of Earth Conditions (Alice James Books), is about as close as it comes.
It’s about finding love, about “kneel[ing] my grief down in the dive bar, it’s about how the “body is burned until gathered, / until it remains–.” Most of all, it’s about when body meets the inside of the body because the outside just doesn’t make sense anymore. It’s when space feels like a metaphor for a much larger universe, and you wish for a black hole within which to hide. You drink NyQuil, and like Plath, wonder about the moon. But you don’t go outside the body. You don’t look outside your eyes.
Winrock sews a spacesuit for anyone who has suffered, and in this we are wrapped – and rapt. We are felt. We are seen. We are allowed to cover ourselves in spacesuits and black holes. And we are allowed to grieve. And “no one is going to come tell us it’s not safe // to be holding our breath.”