Best Bones

Best Bones

by Sarah Rose Nordgren


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Winner of the 2013 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize

Best Bones is a house. When you walk around the rooms of the house, you overhear the desires and griefs of a family, as well as the unresolved concerns of lingering ghosts. The various voices in the house struggle against the family roles and social identities that they must wear like heavy garments—mother, father, wife, husband, sister, brother, servant, and master. All these voices crave unification; they want to join themselves into one whole sentient being, into “a mansion steering itself.”

The poems in Best Bones also explore the experience of living in a physical body, and how the natural world intersects with manmade landscapes and technologies. In it, mother has a reset button, servants blend into the furniture, and a doctor patiently oversees the pregnancy of the earth.

In these poems, the body is a working machine, a repository of childhood myth and archetype, and a window to the spiritual world. The poems strive to be visceral on the level of dream, or of a story that is half remembered and half fabricated.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822963172
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication date: 09/17/2014
Series: Pitt Poetry Series
Edition description: 1
Pages: 88
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Sarah Rose Nordgren’s poems have appeared inAgni, Ploughshares, The Iowa Review, the Harvard Review,The Literary Review,theBest New Poetsanthology, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of two fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Table of Contents

Fable 1


Still Birth 5

Temporary River 6

Remarks on the Morning's Work in Winter 7

The Wife 9

The Mistress 10

A Bathing Gown a Girl Can Make 11

The Only House in the Neighborhood 12

The Lord Is Risen Indeed 13

Sisters 14

White Sheep. White Cloud 15

Gentle Doctor 16

1917 17


Exhumation 21

My Grandmother's Belongings 22

Mary 23

To My Daughter 24

Surrogate 25

Instructions for Marriage by Capture 26

Wallflower 28

Instructions for Marriage by Service 29

By Jove 31

Our Furry Friends 32

The Performance 33

Letter from a New England Girl 34

Charmed 36

Your Server for This Evening 37

Laying the Cloth, Et Cetera 39

Employment 40

Blackfly 41

Possible Names for a Country House 42

August Postcard 43

My Dearest Doll 44

Remembering Your Young Love 45


Gaikotsu 49

Love Poem 51

Kids These Days 52

Tending the Flocks (England, 1790) 53

Prion 54

Don't 55

The Best Bones 56

Home 57

Pajamas 59

Ophelia 61

The Artist's Boy 62

The New Family 63

About the Hammer 64

The Monastery 65

Calendar 67

When You Are Dead 69

Blue Whale 73

Notes 77

Acknowledgments 79

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