Poem of the Week | September 27, 2021

This week’s Poem of the Week is “Elegy” by D.S. Waldman.

D.S. Waldman is a Marsh-Rebelo scholar at San Diego State University. His work has most recently appeared or is forthcoming in Georgia Review, Poetry Northwest, Gettysburg Review, Copper Nickel, Colorado Review, The Common, Cherry Tree, and Los Angeles Review. He’s received fellowships, support and awards from Middlebury College, Kenyon Review summer workshops, San Diego State University, and Georgia Review. www.dswaldman.com



There’s the word — brother, say
— then there’s the room where

the mind keeps it. A room
of heat with no walls. Square

of black earth steaming
in a snowy field.

There’s the word, then there’s
how you say it: breath going

cloud, going vapor.
Just going. A memory

is like a room, a photograph
inside a room — a boy

in a white shirt. He digs,
moves dirt from here

to there. His breath a cloud,
brief in the morning chill.

If you hold the photograph,
you hold the boy, you hold,

in your cupped hands, water
from the well he, with

enough time, could dig.


Author’s Note

My big brother died seven years ago. Today, September 6, is actually the anniversary of his passing. Though it took a number of years for me to write anything about my brother, it seems recently that he’s present in everything I’m working on. A present absence. This poem, inspired to some degree by the poem “Homeland Elegy,” written by my mentor Blas Falconer, is part of a full length collection I’m slowly piecing together. A book I’ll dedicate to my brother. A book he’ll never read.