Daigon on Grief: 6 Poems
Editor's note: We've featured Ruth's work many, many times in the KotaPress Poetry Journal and are always touched to the core by her works. This is the first time Ruth offered works to us for use in the Loss Journal, and I don't think we could find a more eloquent and graceful expression for the many facets of grief that we all face in our day to day lives. Many thanks, Ruth, for your continued support and contributions to our Kota work!


by Ruth Daigon

(in memoriam to all the young victims of war)

in the blue fires of midnight
we weep for the children
we will never meet

little naked ghosts
that will not know warmth
or filaments of memory

there is no loneliness like theirs
nothing for them to do but
circle the long days
in the green countries of the mind
still visible but forever out of reach.

we sense the air blowing through cracks in our lives
each night dreams tilt the ancient light of stars
and shift positions toward the young dead
never changing or aging
now perfect in their absence

we watch the young asleep in a universe
just outside our arms
and if they dream a moment
they will see us there
smiling in an older language
waving them on with casual hands and shuttered hearts

and when we step out of our bodies
our spirits will stand guard
until the moon opens her white lips
and welcomes us

by Ruth Daigon

She dreads the thought of going back
empty handed,
with memory shredded
into alphabets of silence.

Through the long night of the body,
she weaves a tapestry,
finger tips remembering each stitch,
each stroke a small pulling together

of her entrance into the world, poised
like a bird, shaped
into a moment of wings
in a perfect attention of flight

of branching roads beneath her,
corridors of wind, tattoos of light,
a sliver of stream finding its path

through rock and earth and clay
through a universe of seeds
moting the calm summer air
and wonder leaping in recognition.

In a hush of color, she returns
after traveling the forbidden planet
and returning
weightless with wonder.


by Ruth Daigon

Since I have learned not to kill them
things have been easier

Though I prefer my ghosts
to inhabit the dark

if they come by day
I'll leave all the doors open

I watch them mouthing secrets
smiling as if there were two heavens

I recall simple equations in the heart's circumference
each sum exquisitely fixed in my memory

Women in sweet and sudden rages
for fear the future comes when they're not looking

Children claustrophobic in their skins
fanning out like fish bones

Younglings piercing love's delicate membrane
to taste the fleshy core

Friends in the gray solfeggio of autumn
and the ritual smile

Together with them, the seeded hours pass
until a spill of sun, a sweep of shade

and under the ashen stars
my dead are growing old


by Ruth Daigon

these are the falling years for them
they will go deep and remember
how they flew the ecstatic moments
and returned to an indifferent earth
and what they never knew they invented

caressed by a wind
stirring their deepest sleep
where the elders walked the paths of earth
leading them step by step stone by stone
until parachutes of light announced the dawn

youth was once a gift they could afford to lose
but now as the moments spin retreats
every day is strung
and restrung like broken beads

the storehouse of the past guards
the silken clefts of the body
the straight secret of the spine
the winged scapulae
with their recurrent hints of flight
and the blind hours before dawn to midnight's blaze

the heart recalls
the suddenness of trees
and flawless entrance of morning light
spring blooms and impermanent buds
flowers so fragile and generous
willing to fade
giving way to the fruits of summer

ripe and bursting to bloom
the juice flowing from within
and the rich life reaching down to the roots again

by Ruth Daigon

In a world lit by summer
during day's sweet drifting,
the rain runs green
and all the buried springs
glow in the soil of sleep .

Even in this mild terrain
the air is burdened
with the taste of regret
the seduction of darkness
and a wilderness beginning to unravel.

Nothing is unknown to us.
We have a weather all our own
an inward circling sun
a river of stars that has no source
and a long history of rain

No more our days
deliciously surrender to the unknown,
for all is known.
No more the lying naked and inventing
new names for nakedness.
No more the singing echoes.

The golden girls are gone.
The bears are dead.
The spells which kept our children close,
forgotten, and the voice that sent us
off into the world becomes our own
as we tell the young

You'll come once upon a time.
Only once
and before darkness rises like hot breath
and the lotus moon's still blooming
in our arms there may be time enough
to choose an ending
that has not chosen us.


by Ruth Daigon


We keep pulling him up
from the bottom of the Red River
in stop-action or slow-motion
and replay the splash
blooming around his hips.

We correct his dive,
restore the promise
of his form, each movement
clear in the instant of falling.

The moment reversed,
we reel him up
to where he's still
sitting on the bank.

Mother covers her
bare scalp with hair
torn by its roots.

Screams sucked back
into her mouth become
soft syllables again.

Her shredded clothes
re-woven. The table set
for his return.


Again he's swimming
and the Red River
opens wide to take him in.

Mother's rooted to the bank
her voice floating over water
we're waiting supper for you.

Bread and milk lie
heavy on the table where sisters
stand strange to one another.

They turn their backs
and climb the stairs
to narrow rooms.

It's that time of year
nudging memories of
his face streaked with summer

murmurs at evening meals
walks along the river
with its glowing spine.

In this house where
no one survives love
darkness opens like a white door.


Summer nights we'd sit on the back veranda
planing down the hours with small talk.
Stories flowed in a spill of old pleasures
sweet and tart and light on the tongue
The air was fresh the weather excellent
the room radiant with the dead.

About the Author
Ruth Daigon was founder and editor of POETS ON: for twenty years until it ceased publication. Her poems have been widely published in E mags, print mags, anthologies and collections. She was Poet-Of-The-Month on the University of Chile's Pares Cum Paribus (an E chapbook in English and Spanish). Her chapbooks appear in WEBDELSOL, THE ALSOP REVIEW, FORPOETRY, POETRYMAGAZINE, THREE CANDLE REVIEW, KOTAPRESS POETRY ANTHOLOGY both in hard cover and on the WEB.

Some of her earlier poetry collections are "Between One Future And the Next (Papier-Mâché Press) 1995, "About A Year" (Small Poetry Press, Select Poetry Series)1996. Daigon's poetry awards include "The Ann Stanford Poetry Prize, 1997 (University of Southern California Anthology), 1997) and the Greensboro Poetry Award (Greensboro Arts Council, 2000) Her poetry collections continue with "The Moon Inside" (Gravity/Newton's Baby), 1999. She is part of Pudding House Publications Poetry Chapbook Series "Ruth Daigon's Greatest Hits 1970-2000. "Payday At The Triangle" (Small Poetry Press, Select Poets Series) based on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York City,1911 was published in 2001 and one of her many readings was performed in The Lower East Side tenement Museum in Manhattan, the area where the fire occurred. Her latest poetry book is "Handfuls of Time" (Small Poetry Press, Select Poets Series) 2002. Her poetry was published by the State department in their literary exchange with Thailand and their translation program has just issued the first book of Modern American poets in English and Thai in which she appears. Her poetry also appeared on the Garrison Keilor show.

You can reach Ruth at ruthart@aol.com

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