In the Unwalled City (Kobo eBook)
In the Unwalled City takes its title from Epicurus, who wrote: “Against other things it is possible to obtain security, but when it comes to death, we human beings all live in an unwalled city.” This affecting book—which weaves prose memoir with poetry—explores that feeling of being open to attack—in this case the pain of grief after Robert Cording’s thirty-one-year-old son Daniel died.
To borrow a phrase from C.S. Lewis, here is “a grief observed,” encompassing not only the big questions but also the impact of grief on daily life. For a poet like Cording, one form that grief takes is that of speaking to his son. In “Afterlife,” Cording has a vision of his son replying: “let the emptiness remain empty . . . Stop writing down / everything you think I’m telling you. / This is your afterlife, not mine.”
At the heart of In the Unwalled City is a series of questions: How does loss change a person? How does one chart a new life that both acknowledges a son’s death and still finds a way back to delight? How does one now live fully in the unwalled city?