Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Poems: "Pieta" by Veronica Golos

What of the farm mother, her soldier son, shattered.
She hides her shuddering inside the closet, rubs the coat
and boots he’ll never need again—his body of cut-off-stems.

Before, in his childlife sleep, his legs flung open, sometimes
she couldn’t even look he was so beautiful, although she didn’t 
have then,
and doesn’t have now, the word—

She’s speared through—
that smell in his room
his blind left eye,
three limbs sawed away
his shit staining
the white sheets—

the Wal-Mart sheets she buys and buys…

you see he had been
so crisp, so cut-line, so formal in the uniform,
as if he had been pressed somehow
inside &

her with her deep knowledge of ironing,
of pressing herself,
had recognized it in him, you know,
and saw beauty in it, yes,
in the sharp crease, it was clean and clear, that work
of hands and
the message that work carried,
that someone had done this for him.

She rolls him on his side, and removes, four times daily,
the sheets from his bed, daily, brushes her fingers
against his white tee shirt lightly (its short arms flap, there is nothing to hold)
finding muscle there in his still-strong back,
and the back of his head that little scar

from the day he fell off the tractor, when she thought yes I could kill
I could kill his father, yes for this, oh—

Her memory is a sharpened thing.

where where are his arms and his leg

she wants to lift him, she wants to smother him, she wants to finger all the edges
of his wounds, she wants him back, she wants him to die. All her 
words, the ones
she could say on some spring day    the sun’s out    the rye is up

somewhere below the solar plexus of her
those beauty words    sun    grass    rain    horse    earth

only he remains

*     *     *     *     *

Veronica Golos is the multiple-award-winning author of five books of poetry and one book of criticism. Her 2011 book Vocabulary of Silence, in which the above poem appears, won a New Mexico Book Award for poetry. 

In addition to being a poet, she is also an activist for social justice and peace. She currently lives in the mountains outside of Taos, New Mexico.


  1. The voice of how many mothers, fathers, wives, husbands? Sic gloria transit...