Ira Sadoff

of Hallowell, Maine

Winner of the Lyric Poetry Award in 2010

LAMENT

 

While I was gone, I lost my finches.
The first lilies bloomed. The second and third.
My town lost a lamp store and light in its windows.
My camellias, how pale they seem.
And the grass, how impatient, acting out
With its spray of weeds. Hummingbirds,
I am so sorry. I fell in love a little while I was gone.
I sugared a few doughnuts in her kitchen.
I liked it best when we fumbled around
In the pitch searching for each other.
In the silences there was a great sea between us.
All right, it was more like a pond. But an icy little pond.
My finches, How they would dip and peck.
How bright they were. The finches: how I miss them.

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Meghan O'Rourke on Ira Sadoff

"Lament" begins and ends with birds—invoking the long tradition of the lyric as song, and the singer troubled (and excited) by the plight of consciousness. The poet introduces irony, playfulness, and wit to its lamentation; these lines lightly echo lines we've heard before, opening them up and turning them over. A catalogue that staves off pain and gestures toward lost pleasures, "Lament" brightly invokes the personal and the mythic, the high and the mundane, at once.

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