by Elizabeth Metzger '15
Published by Milkweed Editions (2023)
A devastating, vulnerable collection tracing high-risk pregnancy and new motherhood amid grief.
“All my life all I’ve wanted was to be myself / and someone else,” writes Elizabeth Metzger. From the shadowy perspective of confinement, where the presence of death unsettles all outcomes, these poems examine an expansion and fracturing of the self—into motherhood as well as childhood, into past selves and future unknowns. The child becomes parent, the parent becomes child, the child arrives but in doing so is lost. New loss haunts new life, and life becomes “one or two lives.” The door is more valuable than the prize behind it.
With ambivalence as well as deep feeling, Metzger wonders how a single body can be expected to hold both immense joy and immense mourning, profound longing and creeping numbness, when one so often overtakes the other. She plunges into the darkness inside—of the gloomy room, the inner body, the afterlife and the pre-language mind—and sends back “a searchlight across the underworld,” Eurydice in search of herself.
Aching and contemplative, Lying In is an exquisite portrait of an in-between time—and of the person who emerges on the other side. “Isn’t it obvious how we’ve changed?”