Nicole Callihan

Griefsong

Within the vocabulary of grief:
Forsythia, rain, your voice, my mother,
All the names from starburst to leaf.

Beneath the willow, my disbelief,
Sunpierce, windshake, snowsmother,
Within the vocabulary of grief.

The ocean, too. Seaglass and reef.
Into saltblue air, I call my lover
All the names from starburst to leaf.

To be alone is to be a thief,
All that you withhold, my brother,
Within your vocabulary of grief.

Sad eye pilgrim, sad eye chief,
Sad eye one and sad eye other,
All the names from starburst to leaf.

And in these heartsounds, I do discover
I’m samesame as my father’s mother,
All the names from starburst to leaf
Resound within my vocabulary of grief.


Nicole Callihan writes poems and stories. Her poems have appeared in PEN-America, Copper Nickel, Tin House, and American Poetry Review. She has several volumes of poetry, including SuperLoop and Downtown, and a novella, The Couples, which was published by Mason Jar Press in summer 2019. ELSEWHERE, her latest poetry collection, a collaboration with Zoë Ryder White, won the 2019 Sixth Finch Chapbook Prize and was released in March 2020.

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