Rendering the Bones

by Susan M. Lefler


Available from your favorite local bookstore, from on-line vendors such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or from the publisher

Instead of drawing edges / draw the heart of the thing: thus opens the first poem of Susan Lefler’s Rendering the Bones. Lefler sets up a serious imperative for her reader, and honestly so, since throughout this deeply moving and exquisitely crafted book, she never fails to follow her own advice. Lefler moves easily between a world of broken umbrellas, mad old roosters, stubborn warts and a darker world of earthquakes, hurricanes, the poignant deaths of her own mother and father. I have long awaited a full-length collection by this fine poet. Rendering the Bones is even more deeply satisfying than I imagined.
— Cathy Smith Bowers, Poet Laureate of
North Carolina

Rendering the Bones is a living mandala that opens and opens at its center in an endless dance of disappearance, transformation and reappearance, “drawing life from so far back it’s new.”  These poems hold together with a tenderness that dissolves the boundaries between the world we’re given to know and the one we are not….  “What is it like to crawl / from your own mouth / leaving crystal tangles on the floor?”  the voice of the collection asks a snake at large in an abandoned house, and the poems themselves answer — the earth quakes and we can only “continue to breathe / and plead / and shake.”
— Diane Gilliam, author of Kettle Bottom

In a time when writing poetry seems to be more about self-promotion than art, Susan Lefler's first collection of poems brings us gently back to the transformation that happens when poetry becomes a way of rendering one's life.… Rendering the Bones achieves what the late Richard Hugo claimed was the bottom line for any poem — believability. The reader trusts these poems, knowing they contain no empty air, rather the human breath itself rendering the things of this world and their mysteries through language.
— Kathryn Stripling Byer, Former Poet Laureate of North Carolina  

From the Book ---

Rendering the Bones

The trouble with grief,
I think as I boil the bones,
is that you grow accustomed to it.
Empty space, where all you have left
is old dry bones.

At the rest home where my father lives,
his neighbors pedal their wheeled chairs like
little boats along the halls, their eyes empty
as hooked fish. These old ones know
dry bones don’t live.

Against her shriveled breast, 
an old woman clutches her plastic doll,
touches its cheek and croons to it.
Her reedy cry follows me down
the narrow hallways of our loss

where I hear her again, 
as I stand at my stove,
clutching my mother’s spoon
in my hands,
rendering the bones.