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Laure-Anne Bosselaar

Born in 1943, Laure-Anne Bosselaar grew up in Belgium and moved to the United States in 1987. She is the author of These Many Rooms (Four Way Books, 2019), A New Hunger (Ausable Press, 2007), Small Gods of Grief (BOA Editions, 2001), which won the Isabella Gardner Prize for Poetry, and The Hour Between Dog and Wolf (BOA Editions, 1997).

As an anthologist, she edited Never Before: Poems about First Experiences (Four Way Books, 2004), Outsiders, Poems About Rebels, Exiles and Renegades (1999), and Urban Nature: Poems about Wildlife in the City (2000), and coedited Night Out: Poems about Hotels, Motels, Restaurants and Bars (1997).

Fluent in four languages, she has published poems in French and Flemish and translates American poetry into French and Dutch poetry into English.

About her work, the poet Charles Simic has said, "Laure-Anne Bosselaar understands the complexities and the endless contradictions of our contemporary human predicament. Hers is an authentic poetic voice, one serious enough to be heard at the end of this long and brutal century. She writes wise poems about memory, poems whose art lies in their ability to make these memories ours too. What more could any one of us ask of poetry?"

She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, and has been awarded fellowships and residencies by the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference, Hamilton College, and the Vermont Studio Center. She was the McEver Chair for Visiting Writers at Georgia Tech University, and taught at Emerson College, Sarah Lawrence College and UCSB. She currently serves as the Santa Barbara Poet Laureate (2019-2021) and teaches at the Solstice Low Residency at Pine Manor College.

By This Poet

3

Stillbirth

On a platform, I heard someone call out your name:
No, Laetitia, no.
It wasn’t my train—the doors were closing,
but I rushed in, searching for your face.

But no Laetitia. No.
No one in that car could have been you,
but I rushed in, searching for your face:
no longer an infant. A woman now, blond, thirty-two.

No one in that car could have been you.
Laetitia-Marie was the name I had chosen.
No longer an infant. A woman now, blond, thirty-two:
I sometimes go months without remembering you.

Laetitia-Marie was the name I had chosen:
I was told not to look. Not to get attached—
I sometimes go months without remembering you.
Some griefs bless us that way, not asking much space.

I was told not to look. Not to get attached.
It wasn’t my train—the doors were closing.
Some griefs bless us that way, not asking much space.
On a platform, I heard someone calling your name.

Room in Antwerp

Dust covers the window, but light slips through—
it always does—through dust or cracks or under doors.

Every day at dusk, the sun, through branches,
hits a river's bend & sends silver slivers to the walls.

                        No one's there to see this. No one.
But it dances there anyway, that light,

        & when the wind weaves waves into the water
it's as if lit syllables quivered on the bricks.

        Then the sun sinks, swallowed by the dark. In that dark
more dust, always more dust
                        settles—sighs over everything.

There is no silence there, something always stirs
not far away. Small rags of noise.

Rilke said most people will know only a small corner of their room.

I read this long ago & still don't know how to understand
that word only, do you?

                        Where are you? I think of you so often
and search for you in every face that comes between me & dust,
me & dusk—first love, torn corner from this life.

Rooms Remembered

I needed, for months after he died, to remember our rooms—
            some lit by the trivial, others ample

with an obscurity that comforted us: it hid our own darkness.
            So for months, duteous, I remembered: 

rooms where friends lingered, rooms with our beds,
            with our books, rooms with curtains I sewed

from bright cottons. I remembered tables of laughter,
            a chipped bowl in early light, black

branches by a window, bowing toward night, & those rooms,
            too, in which we came together

to be away from all. And sometimes from ourselves:
            I remembered that, also. 

But tonight—as I stand in the doorway to his room
            & stare at dusk settled there—

what I remember best is how, to throw my arms around his neck,
            I needed to stand on the tip of my toes.