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Homage to the very many

by Dretta Grace White

On five fingers


So…, and he digged a grave
and laid her in it,
and he raised a mound above her
and he sat himself down and lamented
so sore
that at last he died.

And so they were all dead together. *

Carry me down to the sea
Mother dear, Mother dear

Carry me down, Mother dear
For I would rather lie
In the sea, in the sea
Then here in the land that killed me †


It is sad
It is sad

That the long weariness
Of the earth
Is not enough
To repay the loss of one hand



For some reason
The whorls of a flower
Are not symmetrical
With respect to form


That in some countries
The understanding of bridges
Is older
Than the building of houses
Or women weaving

That the occasion
Of coolness
Is not consistent
With the laying of snow
On flat fields
In distant states

That there is no charm
For this


In mid sentence

A woman
Whose living
Was the counting of birds

A boy
Forgot who he was
And was overwhelmed by the waves

A phrase
Left us
To be born as the wind

Only a hand

Here is a hand
As white
As any
In winter

Only a hand

Oh, to be the moon
And know
That whiteness
Is winter

That blackbirds
Will be counted
Sighing after the wind

Oh, to be the wind


Memory secedes
And even the sea
Will not bring it back

Place a glass
Over this hand
And keep it so

Keep it as a hand
Longing for love
To come back again

Keep it as a hand

Too small
To be a mountain
Or the sea

Too still
To be a wind
Or a sail

Keep it as hand

Let it rest

Let it die

Let it return

Let it remember

Keep it as a hand
And even the sea
Will not bring it back

Even the sea

*The Death The Hen, Grimm’s Household Stories. †Traditional
Posted in Poetry

3 Responses to “Homage to the very many”

  1. Marty says:

    Sly. Very sly. And April is Poetry Month.

  2. Neal Whitman says:

    Dretta, yet again you show how poetry can live in a place both before and after words expire. Thank you for five breaths that bring us to a meditative state.

    Amicus poeticae,

  3. jan green says:

    these poems are the best I have ever read

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