GRIEF SEQUENCE

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GRIEF SEQUENCE BY PRAGEETA SHARMA

“The only thing I can find to do is mourn my husband like a / teenager,” Prageeta Sharma writes in her collection Grief Sequence, which traces the sudden and brief window of her husband, Dale’s, battle with cancer and the first year that follows his death. Sharma scrutinizes and investigates nebulous grief, attempting to make sense and to maintain herself as sorrow surrounds her. “I’m exposed and I knew that was the last thing / you would ever have wanted for me. To feel so abandoned like / a Victorian book.” Like these lines, Sharma shares many wrenching and dramatic moments—but when else is melodrama appropriate (earned) then after the death of a beloved? There is so much generosity and bravery within each utterance, offering an intimate view of the life adrift, in a shrouded haze. And even more than her openness, Sharma steels her poems with a critical eye that hunts for and assembles logic—making sense everywhere. She scrutinizes the choices made and what was said; what is felt. (As perhaps only a poet knows to proceed.)

But the collection is not only a sequence that interrogates and orders grief, rather one that considers and centers the poet within the grief. When the poem, the words reached for, is another betrayal: drained, inadequate. “I understand how the poem can land on its nothing . . .” goes one early poem, and later in her sequence: “Poetry can be long and ripe, but it can be puny, too.” In almost a mirror death, Sharma floats through her living after-life until she partakes again. There is a second season for self and love; it is a simultaneous coexistence: “. . .your poems . . . You light them with two selves and don’t / wait for anything to flicker false.”

Wave Books.

—Review by Madeline Vardell