Patricia L. Hamilton


Adam's Regret

You’re out for a walk in the cool of the evening
after a long day of work naming and nurturing.
As starlings congregate at a crossroad of wires
to share the day’s news, a dogwood softly
shimmers in the distance like a mirage.
Each house you pass greets you with a blare
of bright azaleas trumpeting in jubilation;
on every lawn a pair of robins is practicing
the scales of domestic harmony.
All around, plenitude and contentment. 
It’s all good.  Then, boom!  Boom! You hear it
a thousand miles away.  The shrieks, the sirens.
Then images of wreckage, carnage, blood
spatters everywhere, and talons of smoke
clinging to the screaming.  And you realize:
This is what it feels like to be God,
shaking his anthropomorphic head in sad wonder,
muttering, "They’re at it again. They’re at it
Today Boston.  Yesterday Beirut.  Tomorrow
Bali or Bombay.  Always at it somewhere,
when they could be enjoying all the loveliness
I've lavished on them."

You gaze up into the deepening blue, watching
the crescent moon trail the sun across the sky
like a chastened servant following his master
at a respectful distance.  And you, too, want to
tread softly, feeling vaguely that somehow,
in some small way, you are to blame.
Every day, explosions.  The echo, magnified
a million times, of greedily plucked fruit.




Small Mercies

An exercise
to strengthen the heart:
she writes down the names
of family members
and begins to pray,
desiring to forgive
past wrongs.

Third on the list:
her grandfather, dead
before she was three.
sobs erupt,
wrenching, wracking,
tectonic plates colliding.

Her only memory:
a blurred figure,
she crying,
squirming in arms
to keep him at bay.
All else blank, no matter
how hard she tries.




Burial of the Dead

Blue jay.  One of ours.
Small, silken mound, motionless.

An odd place to die, this neglected corner
where garage and fence conjoin.

A stack of doomed patio chairs,
a coil of cracked soaker hose,

the woodpile we never use.
What I stare at when I wash the dishes.

The bare Japanese maple shivers,
bony fingers gloved in tatters.

They say in spring the force of new leaves
pushes dead ones off the boughs.

That blue is the heart's beacon.
If we bury those bright patterned feathers,

rescuing beauty from the coming rain,
will the bird's mate know any consolation? 




Patricia L. Hamilton is a professor of English in Jackson, TN.  She won the Rash Poetry Award in 2015 and 2017 and has received three Pushcart nominations.  Recent work has appeared in The WindhoverWhale Road ReviewPoetry South, and Not Very Quiet.  Her debut volume, The Distance to Nightfall, was published in 2014 by Main Street Rag.