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“The tiniest things can send you reeling (back) into grief. But what if it isn’t back? What if instead grief could propel you forward into some other becoming? The more I inhabit songs like Sigur Rós’s ‘Ára Bátur,’ the more possible this seems. The crescendo late in the seventh minute pretty much wipes me out every time I hear it. Like the best poetry, ‘Ára Bátur’ simultaneously confirms and contradicts my own internal landscape until I’m finally ruined enough to see more clearly what might succeed grief.”

—Rob Schlegel

Were They Hands Would They Flower

Rob Schlegel

Why are you grieving?

Because the others are grieving.

You are not compelled to grieve independently?

The grass needs raking.

The grass?

The leaves. I will build a fence to keep them from the sea.

Then will you help the others?

Tollers ring bells even the dead can hear,
a ringing such that I am bound to.

And the leaves?

When they are taken by the waves I give them names,
desiring in this act a homecoming
to which I am constantly denied
on account of other people’s prayers.

Copyright @ 2014 by Rob Schlegel. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on May 26, 2014.

Copyright @ 2014 by Rob Schlegel. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on May 26, 2014.

Rob Schlegel

by this poet

poem
She used to sit on the forest floor 
and I would cut her hair until it piled up 
onto the ground, like ash.  

Tonight, her name is a leaf covering 
my left eye. The right I close 
for the wind to stitch shut with thread 

from the dress she wore into the grave 
where the determined roots of the tree 
are making