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Skating with Heather Grace – Thomas Lynch

Lish published Thomas Lynch in The Quarterly, so did he acquire and edit Lynch first book, Skating with Heather Grace, published by Knopf in 1987 (hardcover) and 1991 (paperback)? Seems so.  The flap copy is Lish’s voice:

Heather Grace is Thomas Lynch’s daughter. Thomas Lynch is the father of four children. He is an undertaker. He gets his living as an undertaker in the small midwestern town of Milford, Michigan. He does his work and he comes hone to look after his four children.  If Thomas Lynch did not look after his four children, then they would not be looked after. Like the poets Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams, before him, Thomas Lynch works in the world of real things. Like Stevens, like Williams, Lynch does the kind of work that makes him look at death — week in, week out, year in, year out.  Fur fourteen years, Thomas Lynch has been looking at death and then coming home to give life to Heather Grace and others.

Such themes that Lish, in his own work and the work of many of his writers, focus on: the family.

The poems? All wonderful. All we can say is, if you have not read Lynch, if you like the poems of Jack Gilbert and Sharom Olds, you will get jibby-jibby and goo-goo gaa-gaa over Lynch like we like Lynch.

Venice

My wife undressing in the moonlight sleeve by    sleeve.

Late duty with our croupy middle son

she gets to breath by coaxing medicine

and VapoRub and steam. She yawns and leaves

the door ajar for close listening.

Here is how affection settles in. You dream

a girl you had in Venice years ago

off-season, and a room with long windows

so the light she stood in nakedly

danced as the breeze danced in the drapery  —

her skin awash in ivory and shadows.

Outside the vaporetti bubble in the water —

late boast to the Lido and the Zatere.

Down the hall a boy turns in his sleep. (p. 7)

Lynch, published in all the right and mighty literary journals from Poetry to The Q to Agni, went from Knopf go Norton. Skating with Heather Grace was reprinted by Carnegie Mellon.

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