All posts tagged Remembrance

The Accident

Published April 25, 2013 by rlmcdermott

It did not belong to her,
it was not her memory;
yet, she remembers the
day–the white church with
the green roof, the sun hot
on her face, her mother and sister
lingering on the church steps,
the priest surrounded by young girls
and then the sound.

They all turned their heads,
one head on one neck,
twisting muscle, grinding bone,
turning, turning toward the sound.

It was before air bags,
before seat belts,
before soft metals
and rubber bumpers–
everything was hard.

It did not belong to her;
it was not her memory;
but she remembers–
the doors snapping open,
three white birds falling
to the ground, the open
mouth of her mother,
the blue eyes of the priest,
the smell of jasmine and incense,
a young girl screaming
and, then, silence.Communion Girl

A Sailor’s Fate (For SJ)

Published March 8, 2013 by rlmcdermott

shoes by the door
a red cap hung
on a coat rack
a giant’s jersey
a man’s ring
a loved painting
we are nothing
but gestures in
these moments–
what does grieving
have to do with death

the moon
the cherry blossom
the blue wisteria
cannot stop the bird’s fall
everything goes to ground
and we are weeping
in the middle of a bright afternoon
taking pictures of ourselves
to remember we are still alive

we leave
the people
we love
in the places
where they lived
and say goodbye
to red-haired boys
as gray battleships
come in from memory
and we bury
our love at seaSJ Mac


Published September 12, 2012 by rlmcdermott

why them
why those
two girls
why that house
with the gray porch
and a mimosa growing
in the front yard

the old man
the apple tree
the factories
the gas station
the seven-eleven
the neighbor’s dog

nothing made
a difference

could you
hear them at night
could you
see them in the window
waiting to be seen
waiting to be loved

did you hear them
singing songs
writing poems
pretending to
be someone else

one heard voices
the other one
starved herself
hoarded pills
kept a butcher
knife underneath
her dress

she meant
that one

a cat has nine lives
a little girl has only one


Published September 11, 2012 by rlmcdermott

in the fall;
all loss
is in a leaf–
yellow and gold
to the ground.

tall buildings
must fall;
three thousand
hearts and you
in one hour–

Two things
whose pain
is greater
the leaf’s
or mine;

into the
happens in
the fall.

Late Bloomers

Published August 22, 2012 by rlmcdermott

if I told you I’d be there

would you find
the wooden bench
the white camellias
the cherry tree
would you ask my name again
and lift your face into the sun–
exactly as you did that day

would we walk along the garden path
beneath the overarching trees
and listen to the insect’s song
the thrum of things so small
that only lovers hear their
extracorporeal hum

we are too late for love
too late for all the silly things
the longing
the sweet regret
the silences
the sudden rush of words
and yet we’re here
too old to hold each other’s hand
too young to walk apart

if I told you I’d be there

would I wait alone
beneath an autumn sun
would I look up and see you there
beside me on the wooden bench
a white camellia in your hand

The Witnessing

Published July 31, 2012 by rlmcdermott

They are coming
to sell me Jesus
knocking on my door
in the late afternoon
as the sun slowly
retreats from the
apartment’s tiny alcove.

I still myself for God
knowing he would never
knock so conspicuously.
Brightly-colored pamphlets
sharpen their teeth against
the men’s rough hands.
Those hands mean no good–
they push at words
like they would push at me,
fleshy and insistent, always
wanting their own way.

They will take who I am
and sell it. For sale:
the alcoholic father,
the abusive mother,
the days of anger, terrible
words and blows, Sundays
barricaded in a shared
bedroom forced to whisper
the rosary because she said so.

They can have it–
the name,
the unsocial security
of compensations
that have outlasted
dangerous times.
I am a veteran
of my own pain;
stolen from life
by bigger enemies
than these small men–
who would covet a name
that means remembrance?

Love Poem

Published July 12, 2012 by rlmcdermott

This is the way to love a man–
pursuing him down dimly-lit theologies,
wrestling him to the ground,
undressing him with your eyes
until he is only bleached bone.

Jacob knew this as he lay
prostate on the ground beneath
the furious muscle of his lover’s arms;
his heart beat in his chest
as if a god had touched him
and not another man.

The excuses we make to ourselves
when we love, not with the senses,
but with the deep, murmuring
memory of a time when flowers
grew inside our cells and we
were all pistil and stamen and
certain that connection was only
dependent on ourselves.

Job Description

Published May 23, 2012 by rlmcdermott

I grew outside your
window. I came every
evening and knocked
at your door. I
kept watch in the
sky while you slept.
I was there, I was constant
and I was invisible.

I was the moon,
I was the shadow
in the field at sunset,
I was the red poppy,
the blue hydrangea,
the yellow coneflower.

This is who I was
and who I wasn’t;
I was all things
to you and I was nothing.

I will never love
like this again–with
such an open hand.
Remember when you
can remember nothing;
I was the song in the wind,
the flower in the garden,
the moon in the moonlight,
the memory in the forgetting.