National Poetry Month Day 12: “Death Listens Without Ears to the Language I Now Speak” by Deirdre O’Connor ’85

Death Listens Without Ears to the Language I Now Speak

This morning, the clatter of sparrows building
a nest in the air conditioner hauled upstairs
so you wouldn’t suffer
the heat.

The velveteen chair I used to block
your access to the stairs
languishing, ever ugly, in the corner.

The comforter and pillows that retain invisible
strands of your DNA.

Your view from the window where one sparrow stayed
though I tapped then banged on the glass.

Death is the nest you built in my world.

Flannel threads, fringe from a scarf, fine white hairs
from the brush that last touched
your living head.

The work of a sparrow softens
the innards of a machine.

I once saw an octopus open a jar, a crow
use a lid as a sled to slide down
a metal roof.

Death is a tool
every animal invents.

                                                  I make a cage
for your exile and lower it over the world.

________________________________________________________

Deirdre O’Connor ’85 directs Bucknell’s Writing Center and serves as Associate Director of the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets.  Her book, Before the Blue Hour, received the Cleveland State Poetry Prize and was published in 2002.

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One thought on “National Poetry Month Day 12: “Death Listens Without Ears to the Language I Now Speak” by Deirdre O’Connor ’85

  1. I was so excited to see your work included in our April line-up. What a touching poem this is; I was particularly caught by the line “death is the nest that you built in my world.” While I long to put words to my experiences of loss, and have written a lot about it, I have yet to finish any poem about grief. This is beautiful.

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