For John Keats
Don’t say the father died; say night falls
like a father off a horse. Don’t say
the boy misses him. Or that the executor betrays.
Say father’s a pink carnation the child recalls
as love but who left him in the care of no
such sorrel affection. Do not mention
the mother’s desertion. Zinnia says mother’s
soaked in sorrow. So sorry. And she’s come home
to die. Strike this from his memory. At least
until he lodges in the quarters over the surgery
where no flowers speak. Then let him name
that vacancy as he resets the bones
and closes the wounds of grief’s anatomy.
Before I Let you Go, Briefly
That you were human, I celebrate
with afternoon tea. Though you died
and I mistook your silence for taming.
I can only tell you this. I’ve known the sky
to pour flowers through the night
that disappear in the sun’s heat.
Eileen Cleary’s recent work appears in Sugar House Review, JAMA, and The American Journal of Poetry. Main Street Rag Press published her debut collection Child Ward of the Commonwealth in 2019 and her second book is due out from Nixes Mate in 2020. She edits and publishes the Lily Poetry Review and Lily Poetry Review Books.