January 16, 2010

Donal Mahoney

In Break Formation

The indications used to come
like movie fighter planes in break
formation, one by one, the perfect
plummet, down and out. This time they’re

slower. But after supper, when I hear
her in the kitchen hum again, hum
higher, higher, till my ears are

numb, I remember how it was
the last time: how she hummed
to Aramaic peaks, flung
supper plates across the kitchen
till I brought her by the shoulders

humming to the chair.
I remember how the final days
her eyelids, operating on their own,
rose and fell, how she strolled
among the children, winding tractors,
hugging dolls, how finally

I phoned and had them come again,
how I walked behind them
as they took her by the shoulders,
house dress in the breeze, slowly

down the walk and to the curbing,
watched them bend her in the back
seat of the squad again,

how I watched them pull away
and heard again the parliament
of neighbors talking.

—first appeared in The Beloit Poetry Journal, Winter 1968-69


Donal Mahoney, a native of Chicago, lives in St. Louis. He has worked as an editor for The Chicago Sun-Times, Loyola University Press and Washington University in St. Louis. His work has appeared in The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, Revival (Ireland), The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey) and other national and international publications.

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