Archive for November 3rd, 2018

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Honeysuckle by Janice N. Harrington

                        Vernon, Alabama, 1962

With backs bent, the daughters
of Vernon clean the graves of their dead,
casting aside the wind-scattered litter
and long necklaces of ants, leaving instead
foil-swaddled tins of plastic posies, phlox,
cockscomb, and biscuit-wide roses.

They move unspeaking between
the grassy plats, through doilies
of shade and sun, to the carved serifs
of familiar names, the lives
they knew: that one killed by fire,
the one whose heart grew watery as a melon,
there and there the others lost to cancer.

They tarry beside particular deaths,
their sorrow both daybook and parable:
how afterwards they too wanted to die
and couldn’t stop cryin’. No, couldn’t stop
cryin’.
The daughters of Vernon step
carefully, as they were taught.

Hush. Do not disturb these dead ones.
Let them sleep. Free of burden.
Let them sleep. At rest beneath that yella clay.
Let them sleep, Lord, let them sleep.

But the dead hear anyway and, listening
to those muffled feet, the rub of work-worn
hands against a gravestone’s edge, the whis,
whis of a sweeping whisk, they stare out
of dead spaces at the shapes above and see
the industry of shadows. They watch
for a moment, incurious, and then, closing
dead eyes, return to solitude’s unmoving dust.
But the honeysuckle remains, having planted itself,
feral and heavy-scented, left by grief’s gleaning
to fill the silence and draw from passing bees
a music that any might hear who still listen.

From: https://www.connotationpress.com/hoppenthaler-s-congeries/2010/january-2010/256-janice-n-harrington-poetry

Date: 2010

By: Janice N. Harrington (1956- )

Advertisements