Abecedarian For My Grandmother’s Missing Toe

A toe seems like an odd subject for an elegy, but then again, Arielle Kaplan is writing abecedarians about amputated digits, so she must be fairly confident in her skills. Her confidence is not misplaced. Kaplan has given herself a handicap, though one might easily have mistaken it for pair of wings. “Abecedarian” flows so effortlessly, the absurdity of mourning a toe made natural by Kaplan’s exquisite use of alliteration to drive the poem’s rhythm, giving it a feeling of bounciness rather than a dole that would clash with the poem’s more playful aspects. Such tact deserves recognition, and I’ve yet to even mention the magnificent imagery. A toe “quivering quiet as a maggot,” what grace! Kaplan checks all the boxes, and I could ramble on about it for days.

Rust and Moth | Arielle Kaplan

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