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).