The Self as Constellation
by Jeanine Hathaway

As a nun I gave my twenties to God
and assumed the character of baptism
unmistakably inside out which is to say
on the bell sleeve of that wedding white
habit which I still wear in dreams
I can’t help but remember.

—from “Looking Both Ways” in The Self as Constellation


The way we construct our selves — as the ancients created meaningful shapes from the random sparkles of the stars at night — is the theme and structural principle of this collection of poems. In writing them, Jeanine Hathaway assumed the constellations of Eldest Child, Ex-Nun, Former Wife, Single Mother, Writer, Teacher, and Pilgrim. Their most notable aspect is their exploration of spirituality, the awe and ambivalence that characterize every significant relationship, whether it be with God, family, friends, invented and historical figures, or oneself.