28 April, 2019: A Death
READ A POEM
by Nicole Hennessy
At night a barred owl, perched in towering trees,
black against the light-polluted sky,
hoots – a rhythmic call.
My son quiets to hear crickets.
We don’t see the creatures behind this symphony;
we curl up in bed beneath the open window,
letting cool air send us under the covers,
heads sinking into pillows.
We read books and tell secrets. He does,
but I don’t miss you;
just ghosts of who you could have been.
He points them out sometimes – ghosts he sees.
I sense the space they require.
Eyes sift dim lamplight to keep from closing.
I tell him stories.
The lightening effect of a loss like this death
has unbound me.
But I wonder if the ceremony that unified us
will ultimately tangle our graves.
Like thoughts of you at all, I let it rest.
The owl calls for hours after I fall asleep.
I know because I’ve been going outside, sneaking cigarettes.
I imagine her nest, wonder what she thinks of my cherry,
my smoke, the screen of my phone, me
exhaling something ethereal they think I see. Don’t follow me.
If I show up in your dreams, listen for messages,
they’re probably not coming from me.
“A Death” by Nicole Hennessy, from Gypsy Queen. Crisis Chronicles Press, 2019. Used by permission of the author.
Nicole Hennessy is a poet and journalist from Cleveland. Her first poetry collection, Gypsy Queen, was released by Crisis Chronicles Press in early 2019. Her previous publications include Black Rabbit, a nonfiction profile of poet and artist Tom Kryss. Hennessy also co-founded the underground art and literary bimonthly Miser Magazine. Her work has appeared in local and regional publications, and she was recently recognized as a Wild Wmn by the L.A.-based women’s artistic and wellness collective of the same name. Hennessy is also mom to a spirited 3-year-old boy. She’s probably cuddled up at home watching cartoons.
WRITE A POEM
Go through your own poems and look for one line or two lines that could stand alone as very short poems, like this from Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem “Spring”:
Nothing is so beautiful as spring
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush.