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Teaches of Peaches


Nobody knows how to language grief. It comes to us as a sine curve or a gust, as the smell of fabric softener or when we stretch and open our hips. It is significant that we capture our private pain creatures, which are intent on bloating spaces of absence with the ugly spasming replicants of that absence. It’s a creature that is, ironically, impossible to fully disappear. It finds a home in wreckage the way humans have always done. Diane Exavier’s Teaches of Peaches examines this grief through hybrid exercises, not bothering to train the cycles of grief for her intentions, but rather, by cycling her intentions around her grief. The book sets itself up through the lyric urgency of a poem and the sober reportage of the essay. Combined, we might call it a sober lyric or an urgent report, not daring its leanings toward genre in either direction. The poems spit and cackle, redact and quote; the essays ruminate and investigate, unearth and historicize. Peaches, we learn, is Diane’s cat, who was, as Diane tells us, “not my partner or my child or my companion or some surrogate or even the creature on this planet that understood me the most because we happened to live together.” That Diane has experienced great loss throughout her life meant, ironically for her, that she never quite learned how to grieve. It’s a family affair and then it is done. The entire book culminates not on the death of either of her parents (in fact, we start there), but with the fateful Uber to the animal hospital, Peaches in her carrier, Diane sitting in a makeshift reckoning. It is a chapbook of unbelievable elasticity and control, a freedom carved by way of formal constraints.

-Natalie Eilbert