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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, March 30, 2016.
About this Poem 

“This was written at the beginning of grieving a long relationship, and a family, that died from chronic dishonesty and unfaithfulness. We humans often try to keep our sentimental stories in place, knowing that, when we finally let go of them, we’ll have to face the self deceptions that allowed us to willingly participate in causing our own pain. That’s rock bottom, isn’t it?  But I think the urge to make poems in our darkest moments is a very hopeful one. It’s a good life, if you don’t give in.”
—Erin Belieu

Dum Spiro Spero

                                      Come, Lord, and lift the fallen bird
                                      Abandoned on the ground;
                                      The soul bereft and longing so
                                      To have the lost be found…


Before the movers came,
we found the sparrows’ nest

concealed inside the chive
plant on the patio.

And the bald chicks there
calling, unfledged, undone. 

Love, the mean days collecting
scored us, and hourly

such years: we feel too much

assembling what our world
got wrong; black artery 

of wires, branched hazard, rat
stinking in the beams. Wrong as

your mattress on the floor,
walls where the only stud

sinks into a metal grief.

Take this distance as you go,
Love, which is my faith, tedious,

steady, like scraping gum
from a shoe. Strong as a cobweb,

I give you this durable string.

Because I remember you:
who saves the sparrows;

the chicks calling and calling
and you who won’t forget them;

have seen the ghost who rents
your eyes dissolve when

your face turns to the light.

Today, I watched the other birds
who lived this winter

peppering our tulip tree. The buds’
tough seams begin to crack.

Ordinary. No sign to read, I know.
But while we breathe, we hope.


epigraph from “Come Lord And Lift,” by T. Merrill

Copyright © 2016 by Erin Belieu. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 30, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Erin Belieu. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 30, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Erin Belieu

Erin Belieu

Erin Belieu was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on September 25, 1967, and received a BFA from the University of Nebraska, an MFA from Ohio State University, and an MA from Boston University.

by this poet

poem

Science in its tedium reveals
that each spirit we spirit

ganks a solid half hour from
our life spans.

Or so says my doctor, a watery,

Jesus-eyed man, and hard to suffer
with his well-intended scrips for yoga

and neti pots, notably stingy with the better

2
poem

Field is pause   field is plot   field is red chigger bump where

the larvae feed   corn wig curled in your ear. Field cares not

a fig for your resistance   though kindly   gently   lay your

head down   girl   lay it down.
   When ready   storm   when

summer   kilned

poem
When I think of the many people
who privately despise children,
I can't say I'm completely shocked,

having been one. I was not
exceptional, uncomfortable as that is
to admit, and most children are not

exceptional. The particulars of 
cruelty, sizes Large and X-Large, 
memory gnawing it like

a fat dog, are