Sunday, March 24, 2013

Lungs Know of Grief (Poem)

Lungs Know of Grief

      after Joy Harjo's "Lungs carry grief."*

What do we know of
how lungs carry
grief, eyes the cuts
that unmoor our tumors,
ears the plain song

of our Why? Who rocks
the heart rhythmic, secures
the hand's pick
-pocketing emptiness
when the phone rings,

and you hear the one
euphemism you cannot
forget: He's gone.
Four years out, some have
moved on but I've lost

the depth of my brother's voice.
His name kept in Contacts,
never erasable,
because to hit Delete gives
no last chance to recover

what no picture shows he is:
not here He is not He is.
When you die less than 50
days after turning 59, time
tends what your loved ones bury

and breath's unspinning ends. Love
undarkens iris, pushing through
a your-and-my history —
the world made smaller
after all, because after all He is

not in it.
What the lungs know of
grief is the web-work of cells
dividing, advancing,
gone madly recombined.

Grief is what lungs can't carry.

© 2013 Maureen E. Doallas

Tomorrow, March 25, my brother Patrick would be 63.

* I first came upon Joy Harjo's sentence "Lungs carry grief." while reading Ilya Kaminsky's and Katherine Towler's interview with the poet in A God in the House: Poets Talk Faith (Tupelo Press, 2012). It was the inspiration for my poem.


Glynn said...

A deep yearning here, a quiet understanding of what -- who's -- gone. Lovely, <aureen.

Glynn said...

A quiet yearning here - an acceptance of what's -- who's gone. Lovely, Maureen.

Jenne' R. Andrews said...

A magnificent poem, Maureen; ringing the bell in the body with assent and empathy. I always think that the poet's burden-- to articulate loss-- is one of the harshest-- a curse, and yet compelling and impelling your exquisite lyricism:

Four years out, some have
moved on but I've lost

the depth of my brother's voice.

S. Etole said...

I often wish I had my mother's voice on a recording as my memory longs to hear it once again.

Anonymous said...

Very moving for me. Thank you