Sunday, April 1, 2012

a poem by gregory donovan

Happy National Poetry Month!  Throughout April I will be posting a poem-a-day.  Today's poem is by Gregory Donovan.


When she put her finger inside
his mouth, there was Hispania
and the dusty roads pocked
with droplets of rain before
the wooden wheels came grinding,
the impassable suck of black mud.
When she put her finger inside
herself again, he was there, too,
taking the famous Spanish steps
into the foothills among the azaleas,
they were building the sunlit villa
to which they would always return.
When she put her finger inside
his mouth, there was the temple
and the hands clapping sharply
against the steep stair, bringing back
the call of the quetzal, the star
shining in her dark eye,
the blood running down the stone.
When she put her finger inside
herself again, he was almost
there, but she did not come
that night, nor the next,
and another rung on the ladder
that led to—where?—had broken
as the stars faded, the bright birds
disappeared, the walls fell in,
and she never came to him that way again.
When she put her finger inside
his wounds, he knew them all
once more—she said she found it
hard to believe all they had told her—
yet he knew if she would believe,
in that moment he would be healed
for as long as the mockingbird sang,
as long as the taste nailed him down or
gently wrapped him up and took him away
to a story that wouldn’t die in a war without end.

"Taste" was originally published, in slightly different form, in Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts, Volume 22, Issue 2 (Winter/Spring 2010).

Gregory Donovan is the author of the poetry collection Calling His Children Home, winner of the Devins Award, as well as poetry, essays, and fiction published in The Kenyon Review, New England Review, The Southern Review, storySouth, 42opus, diode, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere. He teaches in the graduate creative writing program at Virginia Commonwealth University and is Senior Editor of the online journal Blackbird. The poem published here comes from his recently completed poetry collection, Labyrinths in Black and Blue, which soon will be in circulation to publishers.

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