“The Waving Girl” by Donald Smyth

Donald Smyth


When I think of the girl standing
at river’s edge, arms uplifted as
if crying for divine intervention,
I think of Savannah and its stately

homes and squares, but I also think
of longing run awry, but isn’t that
part of what love is about, longing
unfulfilled? She stands alone there,

towel waving at passing ships, awaiting
the sailor-lover who will never come.
The Waving Girl of Savannah. The sun
was sunny side up, yolk lava hot, when

I first saw her standing there. I
wanted more than anything, more than
asking Christ what he really felt about
Roman soldiers, to have a conversation

with her, the city light-tender’s sister,
but bronze lips never move. They just
burn in the sun and chill in the night
like the rest of us.

from Rattle #24, Winter 2005


Donald Smyth: “From early days, I aspired to write. Before I could read, in rural Oklahoma, I dictated country songs to my mother. After reading Whitman, I said maybe. After Keats, Housman, Dickinson, Lowell, Eliot, Stevens, Crane and so many others, I said, yes: I want to write poetry—be a poet.”

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