How to Love the Empty Air

How to Love the Empty Air

by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz


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New York Times bestselling nonfiction writer and poet Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz’s How to Love the Empty Air reaches new heights in her revelatory seventh collection of poetry. Continuing in her tradition of engaging autobiographical work, How to Love the Empty Air explores what happens when the impossible becomes real―for better and for worse. Aptowicz’s journey to find happiness and home in her ever-shifting world sees her struggling in cities throughout America. When her luck changes―in love and in life―she can’t help but “tell the sun / tell the fields / tell the huge Texas sky…. / tell myself again and again until I believe it.” However, the upward trajectory of this new life is rocked by the sudden death of the poet’s mother.

In the year that follows, Aptowicz battles the silencing power of grief with intimate poems burnished by loss and a hard-won humor, capturing the dance that all newly grieving must do between everyday living and the desire “to elope with this grief, / who is not your enemy, / this grief who maybe now is your best friend. / This grief, who is your husband, / the thing you curl into every night, / falling asleep in its arms…” As in her award-winning The Year of No Mistakes, Aptowicz counts her losses and her blessings, knowing how despite it all, life “ripples boundless, like electricity, like joy / like... laughter, irresistible and bright, / an impossible thing to contain.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781938912801
Publisher: Write Bloody Publishing
Publication date: 03/20/2018
Pages: 88
Sales rank: 423,131
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz is the author of seven books of poetry, including The Year of No Mistakes, crowned the Book of the Year for Poetry by the Writers' League of Texas. She is also the author of two books of nonfiction, most recently Dr Mütter's Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine, which spent three months on the New York Times Best Seller. Recent awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the ArtsEDGE write-in-residency at the University of Pennsylvania and the Amy Clampitt Residency. When not on the road, she lives in Austin.

Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from: My Mother Wants to Know if I’m Dead

ARE YOU DEAD? is the subject line of her email.

The text outlines the numerous ways she thinks

I could have died: slain by an axe-murderer, lifeless

on the side of a highway, choked to death by smoke

since I’m a city girl and likely didn’t realize you needed

to open the chimney flue before making a fire (and,

if I do happen to be alive, here’s a link to a YouTube

video on fireplace safety that I should watch). Mom

muses about the point of writing this email. If I am

already dead, which is what she suspects, I wouldn’t

be able to read it. And if I’m alive, what kind of daughter

am I not to write her own mother to let her know

that I’ve arrived at my fancy residency, safe and sound,

and then to immediately send pictures of everything,

like I promised her! If this was a crime show, she posits,

the detective might accuse her of sending this email

as a cover up for murder. How could she be the murderer,

if she wrote an email to her daughter asking if she was murdered?

her defense lawyers would argue at the trial. In fact,

now that she thinks of it, this email is the perfect alibi

for murdering me. And that is something I should

definitely keep in mind, if I don’t write her back

as soon as I have a free goddamn second to spare.

Table of Contents

My Mother Does Not Give Advice 9

On Trying to Accept That I'm Not Moving Back to NYC 10

Moving Means That You Have To Touch Everything You Own Once 12

Portraits of My Mother, Far Away from Texas 14

Midtown 16

Lenox 17

Lenox II 18

My Mother Wants to Know if I'm Dead 19

Empire 20

Lenox III 22

Lenox IV 23

Money 24

Austin II 25

Austin III 26

Austin IV 27

Lenox V 28

After Telling My Parents Via Skype, My Mother Sends Me an Email 29

On Getting Facials with My Mother 30

Somnolence 32

10am Writing Sessions 33

On Renting a House an Adult Would Live In 34

Barton Springs 35

String Theory 36

Preparing for the Hardcover Tour 37

On Returning From The Hardcover Tour To You 38

Isn't Every Love Poem an Unfinished Love Poem? 39

Mother's Day, 2015 40

On Never Imagining It Ever Actually Happening 41

On Never Imagining It Ever Actually Happening II 42

To My Mother Whose Body Is Trying to Kill Her 43

Rabbit Hole 44

First Poem After 46

One Week After 48

On the Plane Ride Home 50

Text Exchange With Omar, Who Also Lost His Mom 52

Two Weeks After 53

Text from My Sister, June 2015 54

Three Weeks After 55

One Month After 56

Dark Luck 57

Two Months After 58

There Are Places I'll Remember 59

Three Months After 60

The First Check Up After My Mother Died 61

First Book Release After 62

The View from My Mother's Window 63

Four Months After 64

Five Months After 65

Six Months After 66

O Laughter 67

First Birthday After 68

First Thanksgiving After 70

Mile Markers 71

Seven Months After 72

Eight Months After 73

Nine Months After 74

Ten Months After 75

On Turtles 76

Eleven Months After 77

Also Not A Metaphor 78

Late May 79

Mother's Day Text Exchange With Omar, Who Also Lost His Mom 80

The Morning After Mother's Day 81

On the First Anniversary of My Mother's Death 82

June Wedding 84

Poems That Went Nowhere 85

Roil Call 86

Sleeping in Late with My Mother 88

Acknowledgements 91

Notes 93

About the Author 95

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