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Poetry by Lily Herman

So Below

After dinner, when the wax
is ruining the tablecloth
and we sit picking at cold
Scotch eggs, already lonesome
for the feast they followed,
we find ways to talk
which don’t commit us
to being any specific
sorts of people
but diffuse along
the flare and fade
of a gentling horizon,
and I push back my chair
to whisper
for the first time
without you

I am still grateful
for this life, I say,
and it’s a lie that I know
will one day come good,
like the tomatoes
we harvested green
from my mother’s
storm-beaten
and bolting yard,
which we counted on
to eventuate into a red
we couldn’t imagine
till it arrived

I watch this life
splinter up
like jagged earth,
a hot swallowing,
inertia shortening my words
from I am still grateful
into the prayer
I am, still

The Psalms start around us,
a realm of order, a bunch
of beautifully spinning tops,
but as with all worlds,
something
or maybe everything
has to go over the edge
for us to have a hand
in rebuilding it
Out of chaos comes
the poetry of God

In spite of a Mary Oliver
sort of sense
that need mounts in us
as we pound the walls
of a house containing honey
and beg, let me in 1
I am grateful
for fists to find the ground
I sing something sweet
and only later learn to say
All love is our love
We are all
that happens

Is there
a radical response to pain
Can there be newness
Or is this scream,
I remain,
all we have

There is a face I won’t wake up to,
this mix of fact and metaphor
that vaporizes into faith

In the parking lot at dawn,
we compared ceremony:
I should have said It matters
that there is something
presiding over
or riding beneath it
I should have said
The poem plays in three acts
We orient
We disintegrate
We reignite

Love lifts above
like a body with two fingers
under each quarter
rendered featherlight
by our share in rising

Instead of whispering,
I write a letter
which shouts across the country:
We act Jaclyn
out of love and not fear

I know not from knowing
but because knowing is what
every prophet took like treasure
from the dark night of their soul

God, we ask,
be the God of this, too

We are an echo without
the preceding sound
We are
the making shape of things

Lily Herman

IG: @lilyjenherman


  1. from Mary Oliver’s Whispers”↩︎

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