by Ellen Bass


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"Bass’s work—about marriage and parenting, illness and recovery, small daily pleasures—cultivates an exuberance that’s born of, and balanced by, close watchfulness." —The New York Times

“A bold and passionate new collection… Intimacy is rarely conveyed as gracefully as in Bass’s lustrous poems.” —Booklist

Indigo, the newest collection by Ellen Bass, merges elegy and praise poem in an exploration of life’s complexities. Whether her subject is oysters, high heels, a pork chop, a beloved dog, or a wife’s return to health, Bass pulls us in with exquisite immediacy. Her lush and precisely observed descriptions allow us to feel the sheer primal pleasure of being alive in our own “succulent skin,” the pleasure of the gifts of hunger, desire, touch. In this book, joy meets regret, devotion meets dependence, and most importantly, the poet so in love with life and living begins to look for the point where the price of aging overwhelms the rewards of staying alive. Bass is relentless in her advocacy for the little pleasures all around her. Her gaze is both expansive and hyperfocused, celebrating (and eulogizing) each gift as it is given and taken, while also taking stock of the larger arc. She draws the lines between generations, both remembering her parents’ lives and deaths and watching her own children grow into the space that she will leave behind. Indigo shows us the beauty of this cycle, while also documenting the deeply human urge to resist change and hang on to the life we have, even as it attempts to slip away.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781556595752
Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
Publication date: 04/07/2020
Pages: 64
Sales rank: 339,693
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Ellen Bass is co-author of the best-selling The Courage to Heal (HarperCollins 2008), which has sold more than one million copies and has been translated into nine languages. She has also published several volumes of poetry, including The Human Line (Copper Canyon, 2007), and her poems have appeared in hundreds of journals and anthologies, including The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, and The New Republic. A Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, she lives in Santa Cruz, and teaches in the MFA program at Pacific University.

Read an Excerpt


When you finally, after long suffering, lay

the length of your body on mine, isn’t it

like the strata of earth, the pressure

of time on sand, mud, bits of shell, the moving

water, wind, ice that carry the minutes,

minerals that fuse sediment into rock.

How to bear the weight, with every

flake of bone pressed in? O love,

it is balm and it seals. It binds us tight

as the fur of a rabbit to the rabbit.

When you strip it, grasping the edge

of the sliced skin, pulling the glossy membranes

apart, the body is warm and limp. If you could,

you’d climb inside that wet, slick skin

and carry it on your back. This is not

neat and white and lacy like a wedding,

not the bright effervescence of champagne

spilling over the throat of the bottle. This visceral

bloody union that is love but

beyond love. Beyond charm and delight

the way you to yourself are past charm and delight.

This is the shucked meat of love, the alleys and broken

glass of love, the dizzy, hoarse cry, the stubborn hunger.

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