®

Today's poem is by M. B. McLatchey

Against Elegies

What if we let you sing first?
What if we look for you with Mallarmeís
blank stare: birds round an empty dish,

stony limbs? To tell the history of our grief
we settle for an empty doorway
and a maple leaf

or a woman with neckcurls, named Jane,
changed by her poetry teacherís love
to a wren wound in light. Shimmering anodyne.

Elegies so resolute in wood or wings
that we forget the truer
measurements of unfinished things:

the distance between two
disappearing habits; the echo
of a promise lodged in a warblerís throat;

the length of a dreamy boy swinging
from his favorite limb; the ragged patch
below — our ground for spotting him.

If grieving is a way of working wood,
building thresholds, wrapping birds —
then hands will keep us tending things

too near. What if this June air
should circle, not fall on, our copper chimes
with the passiveness of prayer?

What if the breeze that would carry
a birdís perfect sorrow were to kneel
at the base of an oak, and refuse to rise?



Copyright © 2004 M. B. McLatchey All rights reserved
from The National Poetry Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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