This week’s poem, by Éireann Lorsung, is one of late summer, memory and grief. I love this poem’s vividly tangible August imagery, its tender litany of mourning rituals, and its searching candor as it reckons with loss and how to hold it.

Lorsung is the author of “The Century” (2020), “Her Book” (2013) and “Music For Landing Planes By” (2007), all published by Milkweed Editions. A 2016 National Endowment for the Arts fellow in prose and the winner of the 2021 Maine Book Award for Poetry, she lives in Portland.

 

Along the Leie, fields full of the memory

By Éireann Lorsung

 

Along the Leie, fields full of the memory

 

of  flax, night turning now to August, dark

sky’s small lights doubled in the river;

 

under our sleeping windows where the hush of air

is crossing low lands from the ocean, the beautiful

boy comes with his hair shining in the headlights

 

like gold.

Nothing but cliché can be spoken

of  the dead, who live in their own distant cities,

who are whole and perfect and singly battered

 

by death, the smallness of the body surrounded

by its corona of broken windshield. All that remains

to say is a shrine our words will not

 

approach—so we plant trees, lay thin white

stones, leave candles in red jars, say novenas, make

up the sense of something missing

 

with bears and ribbons, roadside photographs, credible

apparitions, letters, avoidance, a small x

on a map—but there is something missing,

 

regardless of belief, and we know it: in the cool

night air which bears its stars dispassionately,

with no thought for our need or lack

 

of language, the bodies of boys outline themselves

in roadside grasses, where water will pool

in late winter, where red and pink poppies will blow

 

among cornflowers, wild roses; where the tiny, pale blue

star-shaped earthly blossoms of the flax spell out their names

in multitude, in languages beyond the ones we know.

 

n.b. The Leie is a river in East Flanders, where the author lived for many years.

 

Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “Along the Leie, fields full of the memory,” copyright © 2021 by Éireann Lorsung, appears by permission of the author.


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