The DMQ Review

Sharon Hudson 2003

Sudden Music

Next door the roses flow.
Blood in the hand that reaches for them flows.

—Jorie Graham


Look at the generous spread of stars before us,
the sporadic fire of the past, the larger shadow beyond.
Look at the throw of juniper burning into nothing,

the chipped bricks, the warped wood,
the shingles bleached under a heavy moon.
Listen to the names whispered into pillows,

names we loved or never knew we loved,
names that dripped from the corners of our lips as we slept.
Listen in darkness to the sudden music of the lost.


Let memory rise from fire as cedar smoke
lifting into the weight of winter,
rubbing the black layer

which separates voice from sound, breath from prayer—
Cedar smoke distilling upon the senses, blurring the outline
of the body with the stillness that ensues.

Let it continue: On through the black
nakedness of branches; on to hover in the valley,
to thin with the smoke of other memories.


Imagine the snow and its slow work
of dressing dead orchards. Let go of the stars,
the larger shadow, the sweet escaping fire.

Lie down and give in to winter.
Because if memory is anything it is dirty banks of snow
or rancid ice bleeding into water.

So lie down, go gently, open your fists,
let small butterflies rise from your palms
and dissipate into spring.


Samuel Willoughby
Copyright 2003

Samuel Willoughby's poems have appeared in The Midwest Quarterly, Southwestern American Literature, The Raintown Review, The Juniper, Three Candles and elsewhere. He lives in New York City.

Contents            Next Poem           Guidelines