Your Name Is a Wound Is a Song by Susan Shaw Sailer

Your Name Is a Wound Is a Song*

I saved your last message in my email, Sharon,
the one about Laurie Anderson, whose art and
voice we both admire. What sweetness lingers

in your wake—for me, sudden, unexpected.
When I said I’d phone again next month I thought
we’d have more time. Christmas came, New Year’s—

and then my daughter’s call—she’s gone, three
nights ago. I’ve spoken with you ever since.
You tell me death arrived just right—grabbed

you after pain mounted its high horse, held you
to the saddle, galloped where I can’t follow.
You’re ok with death—you did the myriad things

you meant to do, inspired 4,000 students to reach
beyond easy—to volunteer at food banks, stage
mock debates at election time—gave them tastes

of Shakespeare plays in Oregon. You made your
money work for justice, marched in protests, lived
the better part of nine decades mostly happy,

steamed around Drake Passage, Cape Horn, awed
by night sky’s billion stars, impoverished Cuba’s
murals, dancing, music night and day. But I’m

here and you’re not—emptiness when we had
full. This summer I’ll be in Washington State.
You won’t. April’s forsythias didn’t burst as bright

this spring. Red tulips barely moved past orange.
On the bush below my window, frost-damaged leaves.
We outlive ourselves, dear Sharon. We go on.

* The italicized portion of the title of this poem comes from a line in Zeina Hashem Beck’s “Ode to My Husband, Who Brings the Music.”


Susan Shaw Sailer lives in Morgantown, West Virginia. Her recent poems have appeared in One Art, Persimmon Tree, and Minerva Rising. Sailer has published three books of poems (The Distance Beyond Sight, The God of Roundabouts, Ship of Light) and two chapbooks (COAL and Bulletins from a War Zone).

2 thoughts on “Your Name Is a Wound Is a Song by Susan Shaw Sailer

  1. The first line of this poem took my heart into its hands. How many times I have wished to have this gift, how beautiful and lucky to save a last voice message from a dear friend.

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