The Laugh We Make When We Fall

The Laugh We Make When We Fall

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Author: Susan Firer

Publisher: The Backwaters Press (2001)

In Susan Firer’s The Laugh We Make When We Fall, peonies; snow drops, “with all their survivor ecstasies”; “windy caravans of lilacs”; and “Dali Lama-robed “ daylilies act as magnets to attract history—personal and historical—myths, language, facts, love, gratitude, prayers, beauty, and ”all the colors of death and sex.” Family oddities appear in this collection, as well as Catholic rituals, saints, and ghost poets. Always ghost poets: Whitman, Neruda, Thoreau, and Saint Francis.

In these poems, “toads/ pull their finished skins off/ delicately as evening gloves,” and in “Birds” you can look into an injured bird’s neck and see “everywhere it had ever flown…” see “insects, & seeds, & amphibians,/ & even a piece or two of snake.” Using list poems, exploded elemental odes, lyrics, and American sonnets, Firer writes her own survivor ecstasies: “I was buried under/deaths: mother’s, father’s, sisters’ deaths wrapped me/ like surgical wrap. And who and where would I be/ when all their gauzy deaths were removed?” In poem after poem in this collection, Firer begins to explore and to answer that question. This collection is "a wild generosity of spirit," creating an effect that is "sacramental."