Here’s a poem of loss by Jo McDougall from her collected poems, “In the Home of the Famous Dead,” from the University of Arkansas Press. Like many deeply moving poems, it doesn’t tell us everything; it tells us just enough. McDougall lives and writes in Little Rock.

This Morning

As I drove into town

the driver in front of me

runs a stop sign.

A pedestrian pulls down his cap.

A man comes out of his house

to sweep the steps.


bright as raspberries.

I turn on the radio.

Somebody tells me

the day is sunny and warm.

A woman laughs

and my daughter steps out of the radio.

Grief spreads in my throat like strep.

I had forgotten, I was happy, I maybe

was humming “You Are My Lucky Star,”

a song I may have invented.

Sometimes a red geranium, a dog,

a stone

will carry me away.

But not for long.

Some memory or another of her

catches up with me and stands

like an old nun behind a desk,

ruler in hand.

Poem copyright ©2015 by Jo McDougall. Poem reprinted by permission of Jo McDougall and the publisher.

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