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The Widows' Handbook

Poetic Reflections on Grief and Survival

Jacqueline Lapidus, Lise Menn

Publication Year: 2014

The Widows’ Handbook is the first anthology of poems by contemporary widows, many of whom have written their way out of solitude and despair, distilling their strongest feelings into poetry or memoir. This stirring collection celebrates the strategies widows learn and the resources they muster to deal with people, living space, possessions, social life, and especially themselves, once shock has turned to the realization that nothing will ever be the same. As Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says in her foreword, losing one’s partner is “a loss like no other.”

The Widows’ Handbook is a collection of poetry from 87 American women of all ages, legally married or not, straight and gay, whose partners or spouses have died. Some of the poets are already published widely—including more than a dozen prizewinners, four Pushcart nominees, and two regional poets laureate. Others are not as well known, and some appear in print for the first time here. With courage and wry humor, these women encounter insidious depression, poignant memories, bureaucratic nonsense, unfamiliar hardware, well-intentioned but thoughtless remarks, demanding work, spiritual revelation, and unexpected lust, navigating new relationships in the uncertain legacy of sexual liberation. They write frankly about being paralyzed and about going forward. Their poems are honest, beautiful, and accessible.

Only poetry can speak such difficult truths and incite such intense empathy. While both men and women understand the bewilderment, solitude, and change of status thrust upon the widowed, women suffer a particular social demotion and isolation. Anyone who has lost a loved one or is involved in helping the bereaved will be able to relate to the experiences conveyed in The Widows’ Handbook.

Published by: The Kent State University Press

Praise, Series Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. v-xvi

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Foreword

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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pp. xvii-xviii

Death of one’s life partner is a loss like no other. Many who have suffered the loss have no words to convey their grief, their doubts about their ability to carry on alone, and their hopes for a future strengthened by the love that caused them to appreciate their own worth...

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Introduction

Jacqueline Lapidus & Lise Menn

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pp. xix-xx

We are proud to present the first anthology ever of poems by widows: women old and young, legally married or not, straight or gay, whose partners or spouses have died. The title of this book is only partly ironic: few songs, stories, or legends show us how to behave and survive as contemporary widows, our status often diminished as single women in a coupled society...

Widows

Jacqueline Lapidus

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pp. 1-4

I. Bereft, Mourning

Cross-Country Lines

Jane Hayman

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pp. 7-

Afterword

Jane Hayman

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pp. 8-

Vigil

Patricia Wellingham-Jones

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pp. 9-10

Falling

Maureen Tolman Flannery

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pp. 11-

Threshold

Ann Sinclair

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pp. 12-

Ironing at Dawn

Cooper Gallegos

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pp. 13-14

Widow Mother

Lucia May

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pp. 15-

I Love the Vet

Ruth S. Rothstein

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pp. 16-

Cemetery Haiku

Ruth S. Rothstein

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pp. 17-

Is He Saved?

Carolyn Stephens

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pp. 18-

Paradise

Tess Gallagher

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pp. 19-

Wake

Tess Gallagher

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pp. 20-

The Idea of Skin

Katherine J. Williams

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pp. 21-

Salvage

Jessica de Koninck

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pp. 22-23

The Golem

Jessica de Koninck

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pp. 24-

Cindered

P. C. Moorehead

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pp. 25-

Almost a Full Moon

Christine Silverstein

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pp. 26-

Solving an Astronomy Problem

Lise Menn

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pp. 27-

March Ninth

Lise Menn

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pp. 28-

Natural Disaster

Jacqueline Lapidus

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pp. 29-

What Happened After

Jacqueline Lapidus

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pp. 30-31

Widow’s Litany

Rosalind Kaliden

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pp. 32-

Widow Laments at the Ice Gate

Helen Ruggieri

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pp. 33-34

Too Much Life

Iris Litt

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pp. 35-

In the Rain

Patricia L. Goodman

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pp. 36-

Valentine’s Day

Anne Cairns Federlein

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pp. 37-38

My Husband’s Bones

Joanne Seltzer

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pp. 39-

Learn to Love the Trees

Ann McGovern

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pp. 40-

Remorse

Ellen Peckham

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pp. 41-

i am sure

Carolyn Stephens

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pp. 42-43

Bereaved

Katharyn Howd Machan

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pp. 44-

This product is licensed to Lizand Paul von Transehe

Elizabeth von Transehe

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pp. 45-

Boats

Diana O’Hehir

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pp. 46-47

Thirty Years

Diana O’Hehir

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pp. 48-49

The Widow of Few Tears

Barbara L. Greenberg

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pp. 50-

Some Kind of Widow

Bonnie Lovell

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pp. 51-52

With friends like these…

Jacqueline Lapidus

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pp. 53-

To My Well-Meaning Friend

Ruth S. Rothstein

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pp. 54-

Ashes

Kristine Shorey

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pp. 55-56

The Widow Takes Delivery of His Asheson Beacon Hill

Gail Gilliland

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pp. 57-

don’t

Seren Fargo

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pp. 58-

Refractory

Carol Tufts

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pp. 59-

Counterpoise

Carol Tufts

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pp. 60-

Cremains

Carol Tufts

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pp. 61-

the sun holds no sway

Elizabeth Page Roberts

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pp. 62-63

How Could I

Patricia Savage

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pp. 64-

Wonderland

Gail Braune Comorat

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pp. 65-

Do You See What I See?

Charlotte Cox

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pp. 66-67

When one door closes

“M”

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pp. 68-

Shoes brought me to this place

“M”

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pp. 69-70

Mourning

Jacqueline Lapidus

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pp. 71-

Grief Becomes Me

Donna Hilbert

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pp. 72-

Lesson

Donna Hilbert

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pp. 73-

Secret Society

Alison Keeler Carrillo

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pp. 74-76

A Widow Learns

Lenore McComas Coberly

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pp. 77-78

II. Memories, Ghosts, Dreams

Memorial Day

Christine Silverstein

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pp. 81-82

Poignant

Judy Bebelaar

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pp. 83-84

Snapshot

Barbara Bald

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pp. 85-86

Memory Foam

Pat Parnell

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pp. 87-

Flashback

Phyllis Wax

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pp. 88-

Departing

Patricia Savage

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pp. 89-90

death anniversary, and: spring cleaning

Seren Fargo

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pp. 91-

Feeling the Hollowness in My Chest

Marci Madary

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pp. 92-

I Want to Ask You

Jessica de Koninck

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pp. 93-

Pillow Talk

Jessica de Koninck

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pp. 94-

Come Saturday Morning

Rebecca Schenck

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pp. 95-96

Phantom Limb

Laura Manuelidis

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pp. 97-

Chora

Laura Manuelidis

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pp. 98-99

Until

Laura Manuelidis

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pp. 100-

January 2007

Jacqueline Kudler

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pp. 101-

Old Woman Dreams

Patricia Fargnoli

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pp. 102-

Who Will Not Be Home

“Ariel”

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pp. 103-

Ghost Dream

Donna Waidtlow

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pp. 104-105

Waking the Dead

Jill Jackson

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pp. 106-

Left Behind

Barbara J. Collignon

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pp. 107-

Shaky All Day

Patricia Wellingham-Jones

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pp. 108-

Circumflex

Natasha Sajé

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pp. 109-110

Bureau

Holly Zeeb

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pp. 111-

Cold Tea

Holly Zeeb

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pp. 112-

Receipt: 11/07/09

Holly Zeeb

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pp. 113-114

Ghost of Prescott Park

Barbara Bald

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pp. 115-116

Somewhere

Jane Hayman

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pp. 117-

Post-Mortem

Jane Hayman

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pp. 118-

The Acropolis Diner

Heather Candels

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pp. 119-120

Memorial Candle

Florence Grende

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pp. 121-122

Those Days

Mary Oliver

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pp. 123-

East Avenue Gulf

Marilyn Bates

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pp. 124-

Gone

Ann McGovern

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pp. 125-

The Weight

Ann McGovern

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pp. 126-

Maybe You Are Here

Ann McGovern

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pp. 127-

Literal

Diana O’Hehir

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pp. 128-129

Why Can’t I Dream About Him?

Diana O’Hehir

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pp. 130-131

Crazy Menu

Tess Gallagher

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pp. 132-133

Ring

Tess Gallagher

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pp. 134-135

Deaf Poem

Tess Gallagher

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pp. 136-137

Dream Doughnuts

Tess Gallagher

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pp. 138-139

Deshacer

Donna Hilbert

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pp. 140-

The Wild Things

T. J. Banks

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pp. 141-142

Waking

Marean Jordan

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pp. 143-

October 26, 1991: Outside Saratoga Springs

Sandra M. Gilbert

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pp. 144-145

November 26, 1992: Thanksgiving at the Sea Ranch,Contemplating Metempsychosis

Sandra M. Gilbert

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pp. 146-147

February 11, 1994: Berkeley,Anniversary Waltz Again

Sandra M. Gilbert

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pp. 148-149

Apart

Aline Soules

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pp. 150-151

Ours

Lenore McComas Coberly

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pp. 152-

As the Crow Flies

Regina Murray Brault

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pp. 153-154

Ghosts I Have Met

Marianne Betterly

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pp. 155-156

Honey Bees

Marianne Betterly

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pp. 157-158

Light bulbs

Marianne Betterly

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pp. 159-160

None, I think

Lise Menn

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pp. 161-

Alleyway

Lise Menn

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pp. 162-

Loving with Sinatra

Connie Fisher

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pp. 163-

I am prostrate, listening

Elizabeth Page Roberts

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pp. 164-166

III. Coping (more or less)

My universe has changed

Phyllis Wax

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pp. 169-

No One Knows

Elizabeth von Transehe

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pp. 170-

How are you?

Christine Silverstein

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pp. 171-174

Widow, Falling

Pamela Manché Pearce

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pp. 175-

The Machines

Jacqueline Kudler

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pp. 176-177

Managing

Jacqueline Kudler

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pp. 178-179

Peninsula

Donna Hilbert

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pp. 180-

In Quintana Roo

Donna Hilbert

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pp. 181-182

Dear one,

Marean Jordan

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pp. 183-184

Farewell to Sorrow

Marean Jordan

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pp. 185-

Widow’s Lament

Rosalind Kaliden

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pp. 186-188

Prayer Shawl

“Ariel”

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pp. 189-

How I Carry You

“Ariel”

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pp. 190-191

No Answer, No Message

Charlotte Cox

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pp. 192-

Double Sinks

Roselee Blooston

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pp. 193-194

Eleven Months

Patricia L. Goodman

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pp. 195-

In the Woods

Patricia L. Goodman

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pp. 196-

Ties

Susanne Braham

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pp. 197-198

Widow’s Daughter

Susanne Braham

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pp. 199-

Widowed, Turning Sixty

Susanne Braham

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pp. 200-201

A Christmas Trilogy

Nancy H. Womack

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pp. 202-203

Curios

Regina Murray Brault

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pp. 204-

How to Get Around It

Regina Murray Brault

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pp. 205-

The Sisterhood

Regina Murray Brault

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pp. 206-207

Poem in Praise of My Husband (Portsmouth)

Tammi J. Truax

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pp. 208-209

Acceptance

Tammi J. Truax

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pp. 210-

Gracie, Go Get Mommy’s Glock…

Tammi J. Truax

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pp. 211-

Surviving with Gratitude

Christine Thiele

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pp. 212-213

On My Own

Thelma Zirkelbach

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pp. 214-215

Second Anniversary

Gail Braune Comorat

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pp. 216-

The Widow Makes Pancakes

Gail Gilliland

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pp. 217-

The Widow Decides to Get a Cat

Gail Gilliland

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pp. 218-

Improbable Grace

Carolyn Stephens

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pp. 219-220

Still Life

Katherine J. Williams

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pp. 221-

Resurrection

Katherine J. Williams

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pp. 222-

Irradiation

Ann Cefola

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pp. 223-

What Yields to Winter

Ann Cefola

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pp. 224-

Widow’s Weeds

Joanne Seltzer

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pp. 225-

Sleep

Joan Michelson

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pp. 226-

Scar

Joan Michelson

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pp. 227-

Message to Satan

Joan Michelson

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pp. 228-

Betrayals

Kristine Shorey

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pp. 229-230

Guilt

Seren Fargo

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pp. 231-

Unpalatable

Seren Fargo

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pp. 232-

To a husband, saved by death at 48

“M”

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pp. 233-234

Salt

“M”

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pp. 235-236

Fresco alfresco

“M”

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pp. 237-238

She Considers Widowhood

Natasha Sajé

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pp. 239-240

Persevere and Endure

Christine Thiele

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pp. 241-242

Something Someone Said

Andrea S. Gereighty

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pp. 243-

Shoes

Holly Zeeb

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pp. 244-

Exterminator

Holly Zeeb

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pp. 245-

Camp Numbers

Barbara Bald

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pp. 246-

If I Write Enough

Cary Fellman

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pp. 247-

What will there be

Elizabeth Page Roberts

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pp. 248-249

widow, anew

Elizabeth Page Roberts

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pp. 250-251

Why I Paint

Donna Waidtlow

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pp. 252-

The Farmer’s Widow Gives Hima Piece of Her Mind

Maureen Tolman Flannery

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pp. 253-

After Her Death

Mary Oliver

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pp. 254-

What the Widow Learns, 2

Helen Ruggieri

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pp. 255-

323 West 22nd Street

Ellen Peckham

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pp. 256-257

Grief

Iris Litt

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pp. 258-

The dead, the garbage and the rage

Iris Litt

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pp. 259-

Death of a friend

Iris Litt

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pp. 260-

Do It Yourself

Lise Menn

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pp. 261-262

The sound of one hand clapping

Lise Menn

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pp. 263-

Tar

Lise Menn

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pp. 264-

Erv’s Gift

Agnes G. Herman

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pp. 265-266

IV. A Different Life

Freedom

Gilda Zelin

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pp. 269-270

Repairs

Jessica de Koninck

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pp. 271-272

The Walk Through

Jessica de Koninck

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pp. 273-

Not Enough

P. C. Moorehead

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pp. 274-

Black Lace

Bernice Rendrick

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pp. 275-

Sixteenth Anniversary

Tess Gallagher

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pp. 276-279

Is It Time to Cast Your Line?

Catherine Tidd

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pp. 280-281

Lunch Dates

Marci Madary

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pp. 282-

The woman dressed in black is walking fast

Katharyn Howd Machan

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pp. 283-

The Young Widow Revives

Phyllis Wax

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pp. 284-

Widow’s Lament

Valerie Kockelman

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pp. 285-286

My Hierarchy of Needs

Susan Mahan

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pp. 287-

Where Is Walter?

Cary Fellman

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pp. 288-

Lingering

Mary Pacifico Curtis

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pp. 289-290

Pretty Soon, It Was

Heather Candels

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pp. 291-292

I Seek You in the Faces of Old Men

Florence Weinberger

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pp. 293-

Fortune is severe and coy with us

Jacqueline Lapidus

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pp. 294-

The Widow Turns Down a Date

Gail Gilliland

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pp. 295-

Widow’s Car

Patricia Wellingham-Jones

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pp. 296-

They Tell Me

Carol Tufts

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pp. 297-

Birthday

Ellen Steinbaum

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pp. 298-

who would ask for this

Ellen Steinbaum

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pp. 299-300

Last night his late wife

Ellen Steinbaum

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pp. 301-

A Hundred Forevers

Ellen Steinbaum

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pp. 302-

Troubled in the Bedroom

Lise Menn

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pp. 303-304

Beginning Again

Lise Menn

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pp. 305-307

This Morning

Susan Carol Hauser

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pp. 308-

Message

Judy Bebelaar

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pp. 309-311

Something

Judy Bebelaar

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pp. 312-314

Epilogue

Widow and Dog

Maxine Kumin

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pp. 317-318

Contributors

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pp. 319-331

Permissions and Acknowledgments

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pp. 332-334

Back Cover

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pp. 335-


E-ISBN-13: 9781612778587
E-ISBN-10: 1612778062
Print-ISBN-13: 9781606352045

Page Count: 360
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Literature and Medicine

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Subject Headings

  • American poetry -- Women authors.
  • Loss (Psychology) -- Fiction.
  • Grief -- Poetry.
  • Widows' writings.
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