Keening

 
The shadow of a word in the bright light
on a tombstone: there is a soul here. 
The mind makes something mark the spot.
The cardinals bring color, not sorrow, 
and the flowers smile on death’s portal,
as if at a wedding. I am lag of a mother.
She has moved far beyond me, into the fissure
in which I drop my lines, not those of a fisherman,
but of a poet, kneeling by the bottomless well
called Time.  With my coffee this morning I read:
“Berryman’s readings were punctuated by keening” – 
Intense mournful wailing after a death, from the Irish, caoineadh.  
A new word for an old relief, a new word for the venting 
of that sound that left my throat a decade ago,
of that sound still undefined.

5 comments

  1. Mark,

    For the poet, a bow. For the speaker a sigh and a warm embrace.
    Any words I could conjure would fall short. Still, I must say, ‘I remember’.

    Blessings,
    Sarah

    Like

  2. I visit sometimes, though not often as it still hurts over a decade and a half after. I prefer instead to nurture the memories and play let’s pretend it didn’t happen.

    Douglas.

    Like

  3. I know that feeling in the throat when the wailing has stopped; and I,too, fish for poetic lines in the holes they left. Amazing, the crying stops. Amazing, the memory of words.

    Your line “I am lag of a mother” sent me searching. I knew it, but I wanted to know it. I watch and listen as my 91 year-old mother prepares herself to “move far beyond us,” and sometimes I feel I should practice the keening so I get it strong enough when the time comes.

    This poem speaks to me. Thank you for it.
    ptc

    Like

  4. Hi Mark

    An intense and beautifully crafted poem! The opening lines

    “The shadow of a word in the bright light

    on a tombstone: there is a soul here.

    The mind makes something mark the spot.”

    draws the reader right in with their keen precision and power. The shadow of grief always lingers and perhaps, we soften it with accoutrements like flowers and placing the grave marker/tombstone under shade trees where birds sing, brighten the place with color. But still there is the sound of grief echoing in the well of the heart and lungs. What I like about the progression in this poem, is how the narrator tries to define or identify something that cannot be defined. It is there, meant to linger and echo.

    Thank you for sharing this,
    a brilliant poem.
    Wendy

    Like

  5. There is a sense of vast and deep
    with the fissure in which the lines are dropped.
    And the lines made me think of a fisherman’s lines
    but also the written lines of the poet:

    “She has moved far beyond me, into the fissure
    in which I drop my lines, not those of a fisherman,
    but of a poet, kneeling by the bottomless well”

    And a feeling of something sacred or humbling to the speaker
    with the kneeling at the bottomless well.

    Powerful last two lines.
    Fine writing as always.
    take care,
    Kerri

    Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s