PitytheBathtub_Harvey

Paperback Price: $14.95
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-882295-26-5


Selected Poem

Nude on a Horsehair Sofa by the Sea

I don’t know what to do with his body.
It looks smooth—& heavy too—
from the way the sofa’s mahogany claws
sink into the sand. Every other wave
is brown, the ones in-between a light liquor
bottle green, & the strip of wet sand
the froth laps, then leaves, is glass-
brown & shouldn’t act like mud
but does. When a seagull struts by I see the others flick their brushes
in irritation over that spot as if to
drive it away— & me, I’m avoiding
the subject, still fretting over how to paint
the word sometimes because the pebbles
only show when the water’s had a chance
to settle. I can tell he’s secretly moving
his toes along the grain of the sofa
& back, so the hairs lie smooth, then
bristle as one wave crests & another
crashes. The women next to me sighs.
Her clouds look like dark whales floating
in the sky, her brush hovers over
them & then dips down to make
an awkward dab at the spot between
the model’s thighs. It is starting
to drizzle now & each wave has a pocked
& peaked landscape of its own & people
are folding their easels & shielding
their paintings with their bodies as they run
to the striped cabanas. Perhaps he will whisk
out a cloak & wade slowly into the water,
silk billowing about his fine white ankles.
Perhaps he has to help carry the sofa. I turn
and trudge after the others, picking a path
through the driftwood littered like collarbones
on the beach. I want a way to take it all
with me—the sag of the sofa beneath him &
the curve of the ocean which is what I think
the iris must look like from inside the eye

Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form


“. . .Mournfully comic and syntactically inventive, Harvey’s poems are both pleas for attentiveness. . .and elegies for the images we try, but fail, to capture.”
The New Yorker

“Many poems issue from a space of Wonderland-like decadence, where ‘tiny tin gutters would be gauche,/ pathetically mimetic:’ and ‘irritated he would play with his/ Chameleon putting her on a paisley pillow or tartan/ Scarf.’ There is a foreboding to such scenes, and a toughness to Harvey’s speakers. . . . The imagination and syntactic dexterity [these poems] display are remarkable.”
Publishers Weekly

“‘Dear dust-ghost,’ writes Matthea Harvey in this beautiful first collection, ‘the instructions don’t make sense unless I sing them.’ And indeed, it is her fine music which manifests Harvey’s seriousness right from one’s first encounter with her voice. Later, it is the pairing of profound spiritual confinement with crisp, almost at times unleashed, longing, which come to gird the music’s muscular activity. That the poems are mostly one form or another of prayer is abundantly clear; that they gaze bluntly into the vacant stare of an apparently exhausted life-force is also clear and makes for exciting tonalities of spiritual and emotional engagement. ‘I would have liked an answer,’ she mutters, finally, and ‘I know how to kneel, that’s all.’ The stubborn anger feels generous, urgent, and savingly committed to beauty.”
—Jorie Graham

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