Tennessee Literary Magazine Features a Poem from “Year by Year”

May 1, 2020
Chapter 16 – A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Book Excerpt: Year by Year

About Chapter 16
In response to the loss of book coverage in newspapers around the state, Humanities Tennessee founded Chapter 16 in 2009 to provide comprehensive coverage of literary news and events in Tennessee. Each weekday the site posts fresh content that focuses on author events across the state and new releases from Tennessee authors. In addition, Chapter 16 maintains partnerships with newspapers in each major media market statewide, and our content appears in print each week through the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the Nashville Scene, and the Knoxville News Sentinel. Through the site, social media, a weekly newsletter, and our newspaper partnerships, Chapter 16 reaches more than half a million readers on a good week.

When filmmaker Lynne Sachs turned fifty, she dedicated herself to writing a poem for every year of her life, so far. Each of the fifty poems investigates the relationship between a singular event in Sachs’ life and the swirl of events beyond her domestic universe.

In May 2020, Chapter 16 featured a “2010” from the collection of 50 poems.


In the eventuality that preparation for security advanced
signatures obtained life jackets confirmed permanent medical
records sealed pharmaceuticals delivered weather reported
batteries checked tires filled expiration avoided warnings
acknowledged wills signed if-and-only-ifs collected and still
no one anticipated the return of my brother-in-law’s cancer.

A friend forgot to send her payment — a single check
she never put in the envelope, hidden under
a stack of receipts, appointment cards, and electricity bills.
The check, never arrived. Her policy, cancelled.

She who had already given up her ovaries and come
face-to-face in the ring with illness, won that round.
Now no rope to hold onto, no pillows to fall back on.
We two friends of more than twenty years sit at a table
in a café talking of our homes, books we’ve read,
people almost forgotten, purses with zippers, jump
ropes, kitchen counters, projects abandoned.

I ask her about her health. She’s crossing her fingers
That’s all she has until they pass that bill.