Requiem – a poem by Jo Angela Edwins


Is it animal or simply human
to mourn the loss of what you wish to lose?

Gnats spinning in your steaming face
some bright August afternoon
swing hollow in stippled rows
on abandoned spider webs
in almost cold October wind.

You sweep the mess away. Your eyes water.
Again you are the dust-kneed child
heart-stung in the playground corner,
beguiled by the caterpillar crushed beneath
the careless bounce of a ball.

A teacher tells you life’s like that,
death and birth a cycle spinning
like hoops around your playmates’ bellies.
A tough-minded parent insists
this mad world will squeeze your soul to bursting
if such small things stick hard in your throat.

But they do. Some dim autumn afternoon
you watch dark birds by the dozens dip and rise
in synchronized clouds of motion over
the graying stubble of a farmer’s field.
Past the strange grandeur of the moment,
your first thought as their ranks disappear
is to wonder how many will fall from the air
before reaching some warmer destination.

A friend calls you morbid. Perhaps she’s right,
but you wish to think better of yourself,
so you label this grief for the least of us, fleeting,
an excess of love—soft as silk threads,
wide as a flying thing’s horizon.

Jo Angela Edwins lives and teaches in Florence, SC. Her chapbook Play was published in 2016, and she has poems appearing or set to appear in The A3 ReviewQuarterday ReviewRed Rock Review, and Thimble. She has received awards from Winning Writers, Poetry Super Highway, and the SC Academy of Authors, and she currently serves as poet laureate of the Pee Dee region of South Carolina. Aside from poetry, she loves animals, flowers, and far too many television crime shows.

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