The Note She Left

Trade Paper – $13.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-2487-5

Cloth Text – $49.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-2486-8
Publication Date
April 2008
Page Count
88 pages
Trim Size
6.5 x 8.5

The Note She Left


Hahn’s new collection wrestles with the elemental and enduring challenges of the human condition: What can we use from our spiritual heritage? How should we find relief? How, after it all, do we live? The poems are presented as a letter to the world from a woman preparing to leave it. In four sections--"The Bells," "The Crosses," "Widdershins," and "Afterwor(l)d"--she contrasts the hope against the dark that is embodied by an amulet or cross with the abased resignation of torture, failed prayers, and witchcraft. Though Hahn's vision is a dark one, its dramatic emotional depth speaks to a human power that, though damaged, can still engage.



from The Crosses (V)

Cross my fingers, cross my heart,

arms extended, legs together, not apart,

I make of myself a cross.

In my pockets bright blue beads,

small clay gods, scarabs,

four-leaf clovers, bejewelled mezuzahs.

In my hat cockleshells

to exorcize the demons,

to keep hidden the seventh chakra,

the tonsure, the bald compulsion.

Cross my fingers, cross my heart,

arms extended, legs together, not apart.

In my ears little bells of confusion,

to frighten away eyes of the evil.

On my breast a foul sachet

to repel the lick of the Devil.

Cross my fingers, cross my heart.

In my window a glass witch ball

to guard against the shatter

from intruders.

Cross my fingers.

About the Author

Susan Hahn, a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, is the editor of TriQuarterly magazine and the author of seven books of poetry, including Incontinence, Holiday, Mother in Summer, and Self/Pity. She lives in Winnetka, Illinois.


"What would it say, the note you leave for those you are leaving behind? What would you make of it, were such a note left for you? In the beautiful, harrowing poems that constitute The Note She Left, Susan Hahn brings us the intimate reaches of a mind under pressure and the systems to which it resorts--talismanic, intercessory, medical, magical--in the effort to conjure protection. I can think of no recent book that testifies more eloquently to the salvific powers of lyric distillation. Nor one that wrests from violence and turmoil so resonant a stillness."  -Linda Gregerson

:In The Note She Left, Susan Hahn has found a devotional voice at once elegant and spare, as harrowing as the emotional states she explores and as intricately tangled as the ways of knowing and believing she reveals." -Eric J. Sundquist