Poem of the week: Elegy for a Writer

A new work by Mary O’Donnell

Mary O’Donnell, novelist and poet

Mary O’Donnell, novelist and poet

 

a woman I knew is laid out today
not in a parlour or fine room
but in a stable


her dun horses have galloped
home across acres of stars
where they graze among unicorns
they bear pearl fragments from the horn
of this gentlest of beasts


in the stable barn-owls have scooped
that gleaming pearl to weave a bridle
for her right hand
tenderly tethering to her muddied fingernails
 the horses’ nostrils flare close
in soft breaths to the shape of a head
that would lean into their necks and croon
alone! alone! before riding out

their dark hooves will beat the earth
sense a passage to open pasturewhen Pegasus claims her
between vast white wings, bearing her
and her millions of words
across the heavens

a woman I knew is laid out today,
not in a parlour or fine room
but in a stable

Mary O’Donnell’s poetry collections include September Elegies (2003), and Those April Fevers (2015). Her eighth collection, Massacre of the Birds, will be published next year by Salmon Poetry