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Sunday, March 11, 2018


by Jill Crainshaw

“Call for the wailing women to come.”

                Jeremiah 9

she wails
raw voice keening
fists pounding wild winds
chest-cracking sobs
sucking storm-weighted air
for breath

we thought we could live forever
under this steely sky-scraping canopy
if ideas and institutions

would just refuse
to become dinosaurs

did we forget—
our species
inhabits a house of
long-dead dinosaurs

(who mastered the tricky
art of survival
a hundred times
longer than we have)
—so far

she crashes against
a jagged shoreline
mad beauty
digging sandy shallow
graves for wordy lyrics
never enfleshed in song—

grandpa’s wet eyes
look skyward
as his beloved lies dying in
their wrinkled marriage bed

while he harvests her favorite
spring peas from a
fresh-furrowed garden
one more time

—if i could paint on the horizon
all the love i’ve known in my life
i would need a
bigger sky—

she falls silent
anger retreating
sun alighting silver-winged
on salt-saturated sands
an uncertain balm in
this gilead

when we buried her
he wept
as the church choir
encircled her burial plot and
music and mourning
linked arms to rise
up from the earth
and weave
a hopeful hem onto
the grief-worn
fabric of the firmament

Jill Crainshaw is a professor at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, NC.