Message to Mary by John Grey

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Narrated by John Grey

Message to Mary by John Grey
illustration by Sue Babcock


The owl hoots for the end-time of woman.
It flaps its vast wings’ thunder over the trees. 
Familiar hills split into entrances 
wide enough for a herd of wildebeests.
By the time the dead pass on through,
they’re nothing more 
than a potlatch of dainty silver bones.

Maybe an angel shape will shine through the willows.
And a soul will be in the ascendant—
a climax entrancingly serene.
What else can we hope for?
Besides the industrious worms, the triumphant weevils,
cellars rich with the agony of new growth.

From piercing steeples to ivy wrapping around the bridges,
sparrows in thickets and a solitary fox cry,
a body descends to the very bottom of our well-wishes, 
becomes a terrible sadness to add to all remembered deaths.
At such moments, it seems as if all we have loved is lost.

So Mary, whom among these mourners are you?  
Whose bright face separates itself from that sea of mournful expression?
Who is nimble enough in emotion to smile
a lifetime before these others do?
I am waiting. I am watching.
I crave permission to go on from here.


Author Bio: John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Sheepshead Review, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Poem and Spoon River Poetry Review.