Sending the Body Out

Sending the Body Out

Zephyr Press, 1986
(45 pages, $3.95)
Cover art by Nancy Sutor
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“In Sending the Body Out, nominated for the Western States Book Award in 1985, Valley-Fox writes with great vitality of the risks one must take to avoid what Walker Percy calls everydayness. Hers is primarily an oracular voice, one that is full of unexpected turns and near-surreal images.”
-Dorothy Barresi, American Book Review
“In her first collection of poems, Anne Valley-Fox has managed to explore many facets of life: the political, the poetic, the intimate, and the mystical. She does this … with an honesty that is often as brutal as it is enlightening. For those who are rarely moved by much of the poetry coming out theres days, this book will come as a plasant surprise.”
-Michael Verdon, The Hollins Critic
“ “Valley-Fox’s desire to go beyond the simple reflexive or descriptive lyric to engage important themes is refreshing. A poet with genuine promise.”
-B. Almon, American Library Association

Poems from Sending the Body Out


Caretaking somebody’s home you avoid the snake
sleeping under a hand towel in the terrarium
But after some weeks dreamsnake curled in
the tip of the spine thirsting to lap at the skull’s
pond brings a message: give me water!
You snap on the light The real constrictor
lies with his throat collapsed against the
basin He draws back as you pour spring water
into his bowl glaring through you with tiny
lusterless eyes He won’t drink in your presence
but later you see he has quenched his thirst
in great quantity later you see he has
burrowed under his blanket returned to the
unconscious As for you there are bills to pay
books to return to the library food
to prepare and clothes to sort from a pile
on the floor Snake will sleep for weeks
slipped from his skin to carry directives in
six directions . . .
                    O do not let your serpent
die of thirst! Without him we are like stones
strewn haphazardly over a plain or
brutalized idiots massed on islands bereft
because we have not thought of bridges


Bursting out of the blue seas of your
afternoon dispersing like beautiful birds
images fly from the tip of his tongue
red sun (you can’t quite remember)
inflaming its bed conifers bleeding
over the hills behind the house you feel
yourself lifting and curving around him
again and again breaking against his body
His pores open like tiny doors inside
his clothes In you take him into the
clotted redblack soil of ancestor blood
millions of rivulets human and animal
merging inside you

When wind stops ringing green from trees
and rocks roll apart in the water as
light bends away from the glass oh
what will become of this strange music?
Gratitude blooms in cumulus shapes something
the blind woman knows you imagine learning
the slope of the ground through her cane
undulant warmth of mudded walls raking
the tips of her fingers