Out from the Patches of Briars and Blackberries

James Allen Hall on

Published in Poem Of The Day

After he died, my father made
whole, I could see him next
to my mother as she smoked
on the couch, his face more alive
than at Christmas, the last time
I saw him, struggling to lift his cup.
I knew beyond my body, now he'd died,
he could show off a row of teeth, wry
and silly, smiling again to score
some irony in the situation. But
the days I was home, he didn't smile.
My mother was in pain, he was her
source, he grieved alongside her.
And though he died the same day
as my father, my student waited a week
to show. At first, his back was all
he'd allow, the twist and sweep of curls
that were his character-another boy
Apollo would have loved. He was shy
about his neck. I said please, I needed
to see where he'd been hurt. The purple
pinched and dug at the base
of his throat. He couldn't say or breathe
what happened but I saw deep in him
the furious glimmer. Our dead return,
wanting us to know there is no end.

Even suffering outlives this body.

About this poem
"The title is a line from Whitman's 'Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking.' It is true: My father died the same day as a former student; I perceived them after their deaths. I do not know if it was my need to be comforted-by the dead as much as the living-that brought the poem forward out of the briars, thorning its way."
-James Allen Hall

About James Allen Hall
James Allen Hall is the author of "Now You're the Enemy" (University of Arkansas Press, 2008). He teaches at Washington College and splits his time between Baltimore and Chestertown, Md.

The Academy of American Poets is a nonprofit, mission-driven organization, whose aim is to make poetry available to a wider audience. Email The Academy at poem-a-day[at]poets.org.

(c) 2015 James Allen Hall. Originally published by the Academy of American Poets, www.poets.org. Distributed by King Features Syndicate



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