Vox Populi

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Rachel Hadas: Fingernails

Vanessa Redgrave thought whatever
separates life and death
is tiny as the sliver of a fingernail.
She said this not in mourning nor acceptance
but matter-of-factly.  The occasion
was the tenth anniversary of her daughter’s death.
The topic was mortality.
Fingernail.  I remembered Hopkins’s “Moonrise”:
I awoke in the midsummer not-to-call night, 
    in the white and the walk of the morning,
The moon, dwindled and thinned to the fringe 
    of a fingernail held to the candle
Of paring of paradisiacal fruit…
A mother’s thoughts about the loss of her daughter
rendezvoused with a poetic fragment
in a kind of moonlit tryst, a meeting halfway
between nowhere and everywhere,
as the mind is everywhere and nowhere.
Grief slides into an ache that spreads and loops
into the rhythm of our mortal days:
fears, regrets, joys, hopes;
precarious contingencies;
that tiny sliver praise.

Copyright 2020 Rachel Hadas. First published in Hopkins Review Spring/Summer 2020. Included in Vox Populi by permission of the author.

Rachel Hadas’s many books include Questions in the Vestibule and Poems for Camilla. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the O. B. Hardison Poetry Prize, among other honors. Hadas is Board of Governors Professor of English at Rutgers University–Newark. 

2 comments on “Rachel Hadas: Fingernails

  1. Barbara Huntington
    May 19, 2021

    And there is grief again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Daniel Becker
    May 19, 2021

    at the very least, the very least, this poem will lead me back to Hopkins. thank you

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on May 19, 2021 by in Opinion Leaders, Poetry, spirituality and tagged , , , , .

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