Poetry: Pietà –Danielle Jones


For your birthday, you were given
a city on fire. See how it smolders,
how the streets have turned to rocks,
and the rocks have turned bodies
to bones. When you were four
and a half, you crawled over the ruins
of your toppled blocks, crawled back
into the bed of your mother’s lap
and asked her to rock you to death.
You meant sleep, meant dead asleep,
sleep like the dead, we love the dead
like they’re sleeping, love—your
birthday, your deathday. Unable
to make sense, missing words,
missing limbs, twisted, bodies buried
in rubble, what could your mother do
but rock and— You were a dead man
astonished, turned to stone, right there
on the street of her lap. Her body
a building of bones, broken windows
for eyes. Her body, your body, burn—
we all watch this city turn ash,
hope for one feather of song.

Danielle Jones-Pruett holds an M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Massachusetts Boston, and is program coordinator for the Writers House at Merrimack College. Her poems have appeared in Best New Poets 2014, Beloit Poetry Journal, Southern Poetry Review, Zig Zag Folios, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of a 2014 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award.

Image: Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945)
Ruht im Frieden seiner Hände (Grabrelief)

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