“Pause” by Mai-Lan Pham

Mai-Lan Pham


Soon enough you grow tired of it—
the clamoring
gale force wind of loss,
the things that make you angry,
and the anger itself.

To sit in stillness for a morning, then.
Rain tapping on the window,
tea gone cold, leaving
a ring on the sill,

in your hand,
that tattered volume
on 19th century American furnishing
extracted on a whim from
the dollar cart,

just to read about Mary Todd Lincoln
in her favorite chair,
as she looked out the window,
remembering how he was holding her hand
when the bullet came.

Poets Respond
March 5, 2017

[download audio]


Mai-Lan Pham: “During the President’s address to Congress on Tuesday, we watched as the camera focused for two interminable minutes on the private grief of Carryn Owens, whose husband, Navy SEAL Senior Chief Ryan Owens, was killed in the late-January raid in Yemen. Afterwards I thought about her and other widows who have had to bear their grief in public, and how that grief is bone-deep and quiet and lonely, and cannot be fathomed by any length of sustained applause on national TV.”

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