A History of Lament
For mothers who’ve lost children to violence
You would never think so, but the detail is movement.
Not his body, blue beneath the skin, a severed rope
around his waist, the other one fled beyond the high
pure cry of geese over Mt. Ararat with its dirty shawl of snow.
Yes, I have a litany. I can’t breathe. I have to go on. Sorrow
does not end. Once, I was the first of my kind, the first lover
of flowering plants, the water lily, lotus, magnolia.
Not anymore. My solution is the mountain itself, hard
on the outside, hot liquid held at the center. Now I am granite,
flint, myself the mortar and fiery pestle, rocky plates
scraping themselves away. I wear adamant like a cloak.
The one sun that remains sheds his light over crags
and blocks of stone. And a seed splits open in the cleft.
What will become a tree— slowly grows.
Marsha de la O’s latest book, Every Ravening Thing (Pitt Poetry Series), came out in 2019. Her previous book, Antidote for Night, won the 2015 Isabella Gardner Award (BOA Editions). Her first book, Black Hope, won the New Issues Press Poetry Prize. De la O has published extensively in journals, including two recent poems in The New Yorker, as well as poems in Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, Barrow Street, Third Coast, and North American Review. Together with Phil Taggart, she produces poetry events and edits Spillway and Askew.