Against the Blue
The Hudson Review
by Madeleine Fentress
2M ago
Against the Blue   A moment for the spare grace of altocumulus, bleached and liturgical, but not 1/2 a chance to re-read the fine print that doesn’t extend the warrantee, the lifeline that the grey actuaries, in their monks’ robes have calculated re the return on coverage, down to each unseen quark or fermion, every associated iota which will be called back to rattle around some other portion of the dark can of creation. The cosmos racing, by our latest count, for close to 14 billion years, to pull itself apart somewhere else. . . .   As if walking down a long museum h ..read more
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Approaching Zero
The Hudson Review
by Madeleine Fentress
2M ago
Approaching Zero   To settle unsettling debt the reckoning kept coming faster until the moment flowed toward disaster at a blinkless clip, then it slowed, and froze— inflexible and inexorable, a ghost ship enclosed in ice floes of regret ..read more
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The Thespians
The Hudson Review
by Madeleine Fentress
2M ago
For the first several years of the Club’s existence, one man was conspicuous by his absence: David Garrick.[1]   The absence was conspicuous because he was Samuel Johnson’s oldest friend in the metropolis, for both had come from the town of Lichfield where in spite of the difference in their ages—Johnson was the elder by eight years—the two gifted boys had gravitated together. They even came tantalizingly close to a juvenile collaboration: the eleven-year-old Garrick, acting in a children’s performance of George Farquhar’s The Recruiting Officer, asked the teenaged Johnson, already an acc ..read more
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Sofa Sessions with Babushka: In the Weimar Years
The Hudson Review
by Madeleine Fentress
2M ago
Friends called her Anna Vassilievna, according to the Russian custom of having the patronym follow the given name. As evening fell, I often lay in my child’s pyjamas, on the living room sofa, close to my grandmother, my Babushka. The sofa stood in our living room in the Leipzig apartment, close to the large window. Some light came from the outside.   Babushka would recite Russian poetry. She made me repeat the names of Pushkin and Lermontov, and sang to me snatches from the opera Eugene Onegin. “Why don’t you dance, Lenski, why don’t you kiss the ladies’ hands?” Onegin asks his close frie ..read more
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Journaling the Plague Years
The Hudson Review
by Madeleine Fentress
2M ago
Seven of the following ten books have something to do with the Covid pandemic 2019–22, and the remaining three address some of the other traumas that consume our politics, and planet, during these troubled times. “Aren’t you worried?” a character in Hari Kunzru’s novel Blue Ruin asks, “I mean, about the future?” It’s a question many of us are asking.   Therefore fiction, according to one recent PBS critic, has become “more like the ’30s,” say, more sociological, and political, more immediate and content-oriented, less aesthetic, more essay-like and rhetorical. And, as Sigrid Nunez suggest ..read more
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The Widow’s Cloud; The Shadowlet
The Hudson Review
by Madeleine Fentress
2M ago
The Widow’s Cloud   The widow’s cloud: it’s too high to be seen by others—a wisp so siriusly high it casts the palest, the smallest, the greenest blue-gray-violet shadowlet on me wherever I walk, limp, stroll, even to the bakery where I burst into tears over a . . . . . . a chocolate cupcake with sprinkles.   You had the palate of a little boy and the carbohydrate capacity to absorb an inch-thick layer of cocoa with piggy pink and laser lemon dimples. In this glass case I know which chocolate toy you’d choose. I knew you. And I continue to .  ..read more
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“To be alive, is power”: Emily Dickinson’s Letters
The Hudson Review
by Madeleine Fentress
2M ago
In June 1869, Emily Dickinson wrote to Thomas Wentworth Higginson, “A Letter always feels to me like immortality because it is the mind alone without corporeal friend. Indebted in our talk to attitude and accent, there seems a spectral power in thought that walks alone.” Although haunting, these words are, like many of her claims to Higginson, a way of telling the truth but telling it slant. In their welcome new edition of The Letters of Emily Dickinson,[1] Cristanne Miller and Domhnall Mitchell demonstrate through their concise, non-intrusive annotations how the “thought” she recorded in her ..read more
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My Other Life; Solstice in Age; Trees Full of Prayers; The Way It Is
The Hudson Review
by Madeleine Fentress
2M ago
My Other Life   Unwished-for, my other life sails to the port of home. The dome of that old volcano floats over pickets of green, serene as a ghost.   What would I wish for, what would I see in the night as it breathed at the window and frightened the only boy I would ever be?   The life in which I never left that town, never learned a word of Greek or burned in the rubble of my own wreckage, never stumbled in cities   but drove down the old roads— remember them? The way their crookedness beckoned, or the salt tides among creosoted pilings.   Perhaps. But staying home ..read more
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Life Lessons; “Not that he was here . . .”
The Hudson Review
by Madeleine Fentress
2M ago
Life Lessons   Anyone can be bought, anyone can be sold, anyone can be called, anyone can be rolled. For every angry minute you lose sixty seconds of happiness. Ceaseless as the cricket, all night till dawn flow her tears. A strong prison requires no bars. You can’t think well unless you’ve dined well. You […] This content is for subscribers only. Please log in below, or sign up for a subscription here. Username Password Remember Me     Forgot Password ..read more
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Outside the Door
The Hudson Review
by Madeleine Fentress
2M ago
Outside the Door   I am the hairbrush, bristles face-down, the mother left behind on the bureau with one dark strand of hair, the hair she would pull back into a horse’s tail at the nape of her neck.   I am the mirror on the mother’s vanity in the bathroom upstairs where uninvited guests […] This content is for subscribers only. Please log in below, or sign up for a subscription here ..read more
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