Altars of Nonesuch

Altars of Nonesuch (long banner)

About the Manuscript

In Jennifer van Alstyne’s collection, Altars of Nonesuch, children “play bride in little girl bodies,” on “pine pathways, burnt needles / soft moss ground.” Pastoral is pursued in the woods while a cold house in suburban Massachusetts stands secretholder to “Antique dressers held silk slips in shallow drawers, / the underpinnings of a life held together by / little white pills.” Van Alstyne imagines the Peruvian landscape of her birth family, the “hot country / where Inti lives…”

Altars of Nonesuch (square).png

     A woman in my bloodline, aqllakuna,

     chosen for weaving

     wills me into existence:

     I am born of fire and earth.

as her mother spirals into the objects into the house, the “silver hairbrush and comb on her dresser / on a white lace runner next to a mother of pearl jewelry box / made for her mother by prisoners by hand.” This collection is an elegy to the dead, as an orphan tries to hold onto a childhood in which a brown body in the white suburban landscape escapes to green wood.

Interested in publishing this manuscript?

Email Jennifer.

Sample Poems

20,781 Days

Get the issue of Paper Nautilus.

Beetles can’t crawl though her eyesockets; they have no interest in ash. My mother doesn’t rot in the ground like she infests my blood, travels like tape worms in intestines feeding on memory and flesh. four-inch heels sink into loose dirt, cut through overgreened grass I lift them and let them fall as if each dainty point could damage more than earth. My dress is not black but brown, velvet like this ground that keeps her. People speak, her friends who disappeared into their bright houses at her illness. Four days she lay in blood sprouted from mouth and skin. Did the beetles find her then?
20,781 Days appeared in Paper Nautilus, 2016

Altars of Nonesuch

Read the poem at Qu.

Selected for the Glass: A Journal of Poetry 2017 Reading List

Caption: Altars of Nonesuch appeared in Qu, 2017 Dedication: For A.L. and S.S.   Poem: We skip through woods, scraped knees down a dirt path, play wedding with twisted twigs for rings and altars of pine bark sticky with sap.  We play bride in little girl bodies between regatta and swimming, the procession of day laid out: neat little hours, boxes checked, holding ghost hands. Keep Reading at Qu.
Altars of Nonesuch appeared in Qu, 2017

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