Too Bright to See and Alma


Linda Gregg's first two books - Too Bright to See & Alma - are, at long last, available again—this time in a single volume. In this book, we witness the awakening of one of the finest American poets of her generation.

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Linda Gregg's first two books - Too Bright to See & Alma - are, at long last, available again—this time in a single volume. In this book, we witness the awakening of one of the finest American poets of her generation.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Too Bright to See is one of the most important first books of poetry to have come out in the last 25 years. Alma, first published in its own volume two years later, has become its necessary companion . . . It's a fine thing to have these two books back in the world, the visible world, bound together, lucid and legible as they are."—Lucie Brock-Broido

"I consider Linda Gregg one of the best American poets, and I value the neatness of design in her poems, as well as the energy of each line."—Czeslaw Milosz

"I have loved Linda Gregg’s poems since I first read them. They are original in the way that really matters: they speak clearly of their source. They are inseparable from the surprising, unrolling, eventful, pure current of their language, and they convey at once the pain of individual loss, a steady and utterly personal radiance."—W. S. Merwin

"The blinding intensity of Ms. Gregg’s lines stains the reader’s psyche the way lightning or heartbreak do."—Joseph Brodsky

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555973575
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press
  • Publication date: 12/3/2001
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 1,358,414
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 9.04 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Linda Gregg has received numerous awards for her poetry, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Whiting Award. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, and Atlantic Monthly.

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Table of Contents

We Manage Most When We Manage Small 5
A Game Called Fear 6
The Girl I Call Alma 7
The Chorus Speaks Her Words As She Dances 8
Gnostics on Trial 10
There She Is 11
The Woman Who Looks for Her Lost Sister She Says 12
At the Shore 13
The Beckett Kit 14
Sigismundo 16
The Poet Goes About Her Business 17
Goethe's Death Mask 18
Alma in All Seasons 19
Different Not Less 20
The Wife 23
The Island of Kos 24
Trouble in the Portable Marriage 25
The Small Lizard 26
Together in Greece 27
Classicism 28
Alma Watching Her Husband 29
Whole and Without Blessing 30
Growing Up 31
Summer in a Small Town 32
Unaccountable 33
After That 34
No More Marriages 35
Euridice 36
Now Destroyed 38
The Defeated 40
Too Bright to See 42
The Apparent 43
Not Singing 47
Blake 48
The Gods Must Not Know Us 50
The Grub 52
This Place 53
What If the World Stays Always Far Off 54
Staying On 57
Lilith 58
As When the Blowfish Perishing 60
Sun Moon Kelp Flower or Goat 61
Skylord 62
Alma to Her Sister 63
The Scent of White 67
At Home 68
Me and Aphrodite and the Other 69
Me and Alma 70
Alma Thinking about Men 71
Days 72
Safe and Beautiful 73
The Ghosts Poem 74
The Night before Leaving 82
Marriage and Midsummer's Night 83
Winter Birds 84
Balancing Everything 85
The Visitor 86
Figures near a Bridge 87
Pictures of Marriage 88
Forget All That 89
Nor the Moon nor Pretend 90
Alma in the Woods 91
The Thing Being Made 92
At the Gate in the Middle of My Life 93
Saying Good-Bye to the Dead 94
Not Saying Much 95
Oedipus Exceeding 96
The Shopping-Bag Lady 98
Lies and Longing 99
How the Joy of It Was Used Up Long Ago 100
What They Ate What They Wore 101
Coming Home 102
The Men Like Salmon 103
Lovers 104
The Copperhead 105
Death Looks Down 106
Pressure against Emptiness 107
Choosing against Ruins 108
Innocents 109
What Is Left Over 110
Something Scary 111
New York Address 112
I Will Remember 113
Alma in the Dark 114
Children among the Hills 115
Dry Grass & Old Color of the Fence & Smooth Hills 116
Trying to Believe 117
If Death Wants Me 118
The River Again and Again 119
With a Blessing Rather Than Love Said Nietzsche 120
Lessening 121
White Light 122
Adult 123
Still, Attentive, Clenched 124
Not Wanting Herself 125
Saskia and Alma Go Different Ways 126
Alma Is Willing 129
Praising Spring 130
Twelve Years after the Marriage She Tries to Explain 131
The Woman on Her Knees at the River 132
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First Chapter

Too Bright to See & Alma

By Linda Gregg

Graywolf Press

Copyright © 2002 Linda Gregg
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-55597-357-4

Chapter One

THE GIRL I CALL ALMA The girl I call Alma who is so white is good, isn't she? Even though she does not speak, you can tell by her distress that she is just like the beach and the sea, isn't she? And she is disappearing, isn't that good? And the white curtains, and the secret smile are just her way with the lies, aren't they? And that we are not alone, ever. And that everything is backwards otherwise. And that inside the no is the yes. Isn't it? Isn't it? And that she is the god who perishes: the food we eat, the body we fuck, the loose net we throw out that gathers her. Fish! Fish! White Sun! Tell me we are one and that it's the others who scare me, not you. AT THE SHORE Naked women are being dragged down the sandstone shelving on their backs, very slowly. With ropes tied to each foot separately so the legs close and spread open as they are moved. When they cry out or shout down at the men sitting in the lifeguard chairs looking at them through the gun sights, the sounds, no matter how angry or foul, curve and billow like a wave: coming to the men on a soft wind caressingly, like sirens singing. SUMMER IN A SMALL TOWN When the men leave me, they leave me in a beautiful place. It is always late summer. When I think of them now, I think of the place. And being happy alone afterwards. This time it's Clinton, New York. I swim in the public pool at six when the other people have gone home. The sky is grey, the air hot. I walk back across the mown lawn loving the smell and the houses so completely it leaves my heart empty. THE WOMAN ON HER KNEES AT THE RIVER She is washing clothes, her body moving forward and back in its two positions. Suppliant giving. She grinds corn with stone on stone the same way and makes the round flat bread. All this in a place filled with the weight of death. Life would stop in this poverty if she got into a boat that moved away by itself full of flowers. NO MORE MARRIAGES Well, there ain't going to be no more marriages. And no goddam honeymoons. Not if I can help it. Not that I don't like men, being in bed with them and all. It's the rest. And that's what happens, isn't it? All those people that get littler together. I want things to happen to me the proper size. The moon and the salmon and me and the fir trees, they're all the same size and they live together. I'm the worse part, but mean no harm. I might scare a deer, but I can walk and breathe as quiet as a person can learn. If I'm not like my grandmother's garden that smelled sweet all over and was warm as a river, I do go up the mountain to see the birds close and look at the moon just come visible, and lie down to look at it with my face open. Guilty or not, though, there won't be no post- cards made up of my life with Delphi on them. Not even if I have to eat alone all these years. They're never going to do that to me.


Excerpted from Too Bright to See & Alma by Linda Gregg Copyright © 2002 by Linda Gregg. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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