Poem-A-Day 2021, Day 21: Morgan Driscoll

Tonight comes another poem I discovered through the Poetry Super Highway contest last year. Some background on the poem involves the unexpected death of a teen who was battling cancer, and a speaker who happened to be visiting when it happened. It’s a sad topic, a permutation on a theme in a world of sad topics. The poem is beautiful, too, in the way it captures perfectly the helplessness of the situation, the earnest desire to do something right even when one isn’t sure how.

She Asked for Yellow

They are saying Kaddish
but I can’t understand
in this room of family and friends so young;
where I am a stranger hearing words planned

at the hospice only yesterday.
Ancient syllables pass
through morning light, and pass
through a tide of yellow because she asked.

I don’t know this girl who died,
who asked for yellow
in our sleeves, and in our kerchiefs,
and in old ties worn, as voices echo

through dusted light, on children
who mourn and learn to mourn.
I am just acquaintance for a sudden task
visiting some friends, just summoned to learn

of service at the synagogue,
and shiva at the home.
I can’t translate through the chants
but for yisrael, but for shalom,

I can’t but I hear amen,
in men’s breath, on women’s sighs; 
a blessing, a confusion, through adolescents
wearing clothes perhaps a size 

too small, or dug from attics, but wearing 
yellow somewhere because she asked.
In unison the sounds:
Yitgadal v’yitkadash,

I can’t understand so I glance
outside, spotting butterflies 
alit and yellow, 
on a darkened mid-March branch.

***

Morgan Driscoll lives in Connecticut but will always be from Queens. He is teaching himself to write poetry with mixed results while he works as a Meetings and Events Designer and enjoys his five children who have turned out better than his poetry career. Morgan has been published occasionally and obscurely, but the magic of google can find more poems for the interested.