Carolyn Forché

(28 April, 1950 - / Detroit, Michigan)

Elegy


The page opens to snow on a field: boot-holed month, black hour
the bottle in your coat half voda half winter light.
To what and to whom does one say yes?
If God were the uncertain, would you cling to him?

Beneath a tattoo of stars the gate open, so silent so like a tomb.
This is the city you most loved, an empty stairwell
where the next rain lifts invisibly from the Seine.

With solitude, your coat open, you walk
steadily as if the railings were there and your hands weren't passing
through them.

"When things were ready, they poured on fuel and touched off the fire.
They waited for a high wind. It was very fine, that powdered bone.
It was put into sacks, and when there was enough we went to a bridge
on the Narew River."

And even less explicit phrases survived:
"To make charcoal.
For laundry irons."
And so we revolt against silence with a bit of speaking.
The page is a charred field where the dead would have written
We went on. And it was like living through something again one
could not live through again.

The soul behind you no longer inhabits your life: the unlit house
with its breathless windows and a chimney of ruined wings
where wind becomes an aria, your name, voices from a field,
And you, smoke, dissonance, a psalm, a stairwell.


Anonymous submission.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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