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Mo(u)rning Poem

By Katherine E. Young

'My children... they were beautiful': Syrian father whose wife and twin babies were killed in 'Assad gas attack' weeps over his family's graves in heart-breaking footage.
—Headline, Daily Mail, April 6, 2017

This is the poem meant for this mo(u)rning,
now the winds have died down,
the dogwood’s unclenched its frightened fists,
and the morning’s calling
with new, warm breath.
All around birds are stirring,
while a fox trots up the hill at dawn.
This poem wants to greet the morning:
to tremble with the lilacs,
plunge its face in a basin
and come up laughing,
shake sparkling drops
from its long, dark hair.
This poem understands
both the making and singing,
knows just how sound shimmers
in the grotto of throat.
You should follow this poem--
for I’m letting it go, now,
tossing it up on this fine spring morning,
watching to see if its wings will unfurl.
The poem’s flying, now,
above tufts of fox fur
that cling to chain link,
and I’m turning from the poem, now,
tracing my finger along that chain link:
fence swelling and thickening
like a young spring bud,
swelling and thickening and
turning to stone, firming
to trowel, turning to wall--
wall so high, so wide,
so immense, so entrenched
that I myself would need wings
to spy the children who press
grainy, deflated faces
against its Outside.

Added: Thursday, April 12, 2018  /  Published in conjunction with a special issue of "Origins Journal" celebrating Split This Rock Poetry Festival 2018. Used with permission.
Katherine E. Young
Photo by Samantha H. Collins.

Katherine E. Young is the author of Day of the Border Guards, 2014 Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize finalist, and two chapbooks. Her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Iowa Review, Subtropics, and many others. She is the translator of Farewell, Aylis by Azerbaijani political prisoner Akram Aylisli (forthcoming 2018), as well as Blue Birds and Red Horses (forthcoming 2018) and Two Poems, both by Inna Kabysh. Her translations of Russian and Russophone authors have won international awards and been published widely in the U.S. and abroad; several have been made into short films. Young was named a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts translation fellow and currently serves as the inaugural Poet Laureate for Arlington, Virginia. Please visit her website.

Other poems by this author