Didi Jackson

The blue jays lay claim
to the raspberry bush
arriving in groups of four or five:
one holds a rubied berry in its beak
and feeds it up in the white pine to another
as if placing the bones of the canonized
into a gilded reliquary, and I think of the saint
for the mentally ill, beheaded by her father
who was blinded by desire
for his daughter; what became of him
but the colorless thread of grief,
a blind man who opened his eyes too late.

All grievances come to a head
like a champagne bottle shaken and shaken,
the cork volunteering its own release—my husband alone
in a hotel room, after the pills came the decision to empty himself,
the deep red circling his body becoming his own nimbus:
an ascension of sorts. I worried for his soul
and if he’d dwell in Hell: Boschian beasts
perched and ready for torture, exploding cities,
tooth-and-tonged caves waiting for the damned.

I hear the jays mocking a poor chickadee’s attempt
at reaching the fruit; it’s no wonder in legend
they are the devil’s servant not to be encountered on a Friday
as they might be found fetching sticks
down to Hell, but I know better, I can tell,
they do no one’s bidding but their own.

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Gabe Emilio Cortese

Didi Jackson’s poems have appeared in the New Yorker, New England Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. After having lived most of her life in Florida, she currently lives in South Burlington, Vermont and teaches creative writing at the University of Vermont.

Pasadena, California

"In Moon Jar, Didi Jackson gives poignant testimony to the sorrow, rage, and piercing clarity of grief. And she bears radiant witness to the moment when bereavement gives way to new joy. These poems are breathtaking and frank, and they constitute a bridge into the regions of the inner life where words too often fail to reach.”
—Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars, a Pulitzer winner

Moon Jar is one of the loveliest and most honest books about grief and the long road back to hope and love that I’ve read in a very long time. These poems tell Didi Jackson’s story of losing her husband to suicide and the enormous grief of that loss. But they also show us how we survive such a loss, and that love and life can be ours again. I read this book once, and then again, and again. Jackson’s words comfort us, and remind us what it means to be vulnerable and human.”
—Ann Hood

“This debut sparkles with haunting, wrenching, breathtaking poems that bear witness to grief and survival. A spouse takes his life, and a poet struggles to find meaning in living and bearing witness to an inscrutable act. Is a future possible when suffering exists, she asks? Reinventing biblical narratives and turning to the natural world, to art, and finally to love, the poems in Moon Jar, fearless and unrelenting, redefine what it means to be alive.”
—Jill Bialosky, author of Poetry Will Save Your Life: A Memoir

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