“A Spokesperson Said Thoughts and Prayers Go Out” by Sonia Greenfield

Sonia Greenfield


Out like what? Whispers
in a tin can tied with yarn
a thousand miles long
to the can of a woman, her
ear desperately pressed
to its emptiness? Like a loon’s
song transmitted by Morse?
Can you fathom the miles
of murky ocean that whale
must sing through? Did you know
some people believe
all sounds ever made
are still present, hovering
like butterflies? Even, say, the whir
of a copy machine out there
in the ether, sent flying
when the first plane hit? Do you see
voices as monarch wings
wheeling through the sky?
If you shout from the window
of a thousand-foot tower
before you fall, where does
that scrap of voice go? Is it still
falling? You mean go out
like candles snuffed by the wind?
You mean out like empathy
in tiny increments marching
like ants made of sound
across the wires of the world?
Did she just hear an Our Father
whiz past? I’m sorry, I’m sorry,
she said. I think you’re
breaking up.

from Poets Respond
September 14, 2014


Sonia Greenfield: “This poem is in response to the ongoing statements between Stephen Sotloff’s family and the White House, but it is also a response to the pat use of this phrase, which I heard uttered on CNN on the 13th anniversary of 9/11. Mostly it’s about the inadequacy of platitudes to soothe those who are grieving as a result of tragedy, and this week’s news seemed rife with it.” (web)

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