Slate Roof Press

THE BODY ALTERS by Janine Roberts

the body alters

Price: $11.00
Letterpress Cover
Handsewn Binding
ISBN: 978-0-9760643-5-0


Download Order Form

Body Art

Beyond the museum glass,
my eyes follow the small curve
of a horse’s back, lit from all sides,
carved eight thousand years ago
on the foot bone of a gazelle.

I touch the out-of-synch
points of the cross
engraved on my chest
where it was opened
and freed of tumors.

Surgeons and artists converge:
one hand makes the incision,
the other hand steadies,
their eyes intent as the eye of illness.
Missing that focus, I search
for it with words.

Body lit again from all sides
as the surgeon teaches me
the etchings of illness–
we whorl each breast,
and I learn the taction
of scar tissue, indentation,
the feel of water-pocked skin
blistered by radiation.

Designs by ancient hands,
and living healers, illumed,
not of my making,
now wholly my own.

Expect to come away from this carefully crafted reading experience renewed in hope: altered in the best sense of the word. Janine's lyrical poems travel the world, from the small personal terrain of the frail and aging body to the large stage of our collective body, Earth, where we struggle to reconcile the wounds we inflict on nature and culture. This sensual, thoughtful poet-explorer has much to teach us about the beautiful details of loss and resilience.

-- Carol Edelstein, The Disappearing Letters and The World is Round

Janine Roberts' poems plummet into life; births and deaths collide in both intimate moments and far-flung adventures. She writes of loss through “our long mingle of years,” but holds out for the occasional “fling of happiness.” These handsome poems are full of hope for all of our changing selves.

-- Mary Clare Powell, Things Owls Ate, Academic Scat, & In the Living Room


Janine Roberts lives on Leverett Pond in Western Massachusetts. She is a family therapist and author of several books on ritual, and family stories, and is working on a memoir entitled Love You Terrible. Professor Emerita at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, she has lived, worked, and traveled in over sixty different countries, beginning with Kuwait in 1963.

In 2012 Janine spearheaded the Leverett poetry project, which features eight poetry boxes at the south end of Leverett Pond (Depot Road), the town library (Montague Road) and out on the Leverett trails. Maps are available at the library, or on the Rattlesnake Gutter Trust website (you will find photos and other information there as well).  In the boxes, read the hundreds of poems written by Leverett residents ages 5 to 85, or write one of your own and leave it!