Sheryl St. Germain: Essay in Search of a Poem

Vox Populi

You’ve been trying to finish a poem for what seems like a long time. It’s a poem that has to do with the death of your son. At first you can only manage fragments: images, lists, incomplete sentences. They are all good, strong words and phrases, stalwart witnesses to a struggling, fractured life, but they don’t want to cohere into a poem. You have the bricks but not the mortar, the testimony but not the conviction.

It’s painful to sit with it for more than an hour at a time, to feel how impossible it is, even with poetry, to say any honest thing about your son’s death that also honors him. To use the word addict in the old way that also means devotion,consecration, to look at his efforts at composing music, to see how he walked through the world with almost no skin, to say the hard…

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