University Nebraska Press, 2009
About the Book:
In What Happens readers will find two separate books by poet Hilda Raz, originally published as The Bone Dish and What Is Good, brought together for the first time as the author intended. These musically wrought and emotionally candid poems explore the pleasure and pain of family relationships, the complicated joy of being a woman, and the unconventional beauty of the Great Plains. Readers will meet Raz’s son, Aaron, and find themselves drawn to fundamental questions about identity and belonging.
“Hilda Raz has an appetite for the pleasures of touch, sight, love; an openness to the wounds of life and the ‘common face’ of death; a capacity for language that captures the weather and the details of a place and time, a day, the changes of a lifetime. The poetry of What Happens mirrors ‘our great and perfect / need,’ along with myths, riddles, and ‘everything possible blooming.’”—Alicia Ostriker, author of No Heaven
“Underneath ‘ordinary stars and a late moon,’ extraordinary things happen to the people in Hilda Raz’s poems. Love transforms, bodies transform, health transforms, and looked at freshly the things we thought we knew burst into strangeness. There is nothing like Raz’s charged, smart, profound, moving poems, so rich in both intellect and heart, so open and wise, provoked by the question ‘how can we live properly?’ The University of Nebraska Press has done readers a great service by making these early, prize-winning poems available again, reminding us that Raz’s astonishing power was present from the start of her career.”
—Floyd Skloot, author of The Wink of the Zenith and The Snow's Music
You made a small grey dish of clay,
glazed it something purplish
and filled it, years later,
with minute bones, perfectly intact
you delivered with your scalpel thumbnail
from an owl pellet: scapula, mandible,
four perfect teeth the size of seeds,
and pieces of a backbone ladder,
all pure matte white, “from a mouse,”
you said, pushing up your glasses.
We sat looking, forehead to forehead.
The air was steamy. The shaggy residue
went, swept to the floor by an elbow,
but the rest is here where I sit by the window
on my birthday, looking out, missing you
daughter, preserver, maker, eyes.
I stroke the bone dish and write this down.