By Jill McGrath

We do not do enough of this,
This kind of praise. Bowing down,
on kneecaps, where the gravel
eats into skin and marks it
long after you rise,
to the concrete,
which does not give,
where chalk silts your palms
and balls bounce to disappear
down the sewer, behind a bush, under
a passing adult's footstep.

To press down, lowered, like a flag
at half-mast, the body halved
in its wavering over the world,
its effort toward clarity and stars.
Back to the snake belly.
To the earth, the heavenly
earth, which gives,
which stains, which takes
one's last shell.

I kneel to the tomatoes and their passion,
their redness jeweled in this rain-thick
Northwest where all the long winter my arm fur rises
and quivers. I kneel to remove
overgrowth, to cull, to bring in
the necessary light.

I kneel in sorrow for the lost cedar tree below
That once towered here, above the yard,
Scaled heights, sung down rain and poetry.
I have leveled my self next to graves,
knelt to start the journey of ancestors,
to the mournful dig downward
for the coffin as rain brings its mellow,
slow healing.
Kneeling returns me
to dirt, its humility, and its moisture,
its grainy comfort
in the palm,
its redemptive powers,
that raise the seedlings to sky,
to my son's marveling eye.
I have knelt for praise
and love.
I live this height
of my two-year-old with glee.
My daughter praises
worms and slugs, so I have
learned to hold them
without a shiver.
And the rocks, too, I kneel to them, miraculous,
nestled down in the worm and potato-bug
tunnels, carried for months
in my son's pockets
like pearls.

A bullet would bring me here
before the fall. As has love.


My name is Jill McGrath. I am a poet, a native Seattleite, as well as a teacher and mother. (I met you at a reading/workshop at Borders once -- though the workshop was cancelled -- I'm a friend of Carrington's!) I am excited to send you some poetry for your journal on grieving and loss. I have had around 28 poems published over my career as a poet, and I was also lucky to have a chapbook published by Still Waters Press in 1991. I continue to write as much as I can, while simultaneously juggling mothering and work (as an editor). I have traveled extensively in Europe and Asia, including a year spent living in Kathmandu and working as an editor, and I am currently
polishing a poetry manuscript inspired by these journeys.

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