I Hear the Many

They line up at the edge of heaven
and look over into the canyons
 
of earth. They have been delivered
from fear. They have.
 
Their hearts are scorched in gratitude
and their tongues are sweet with news.
 
Those who fell from heights.
Those who drowned.
 
Those who bled from bullets.
Those who starved.
 
If you could see them
you would see they have all been delivered.
 
Come out in the snow.
I am juggling orange balls
 
and it is so simple to stand here and count
catch catch catch catch
 
release release release release
and when I miss
 
I miss and start again.
If I could see them I would wave
 
across the pond, the snowfield, the low pink sky.
I wave anyway.
 
Can you hear their voices?
They sound like wind.
 
They line up at the edge of heaven
and throw down their garments,
 
which they will not need
in their new lives.
 
Something falls with a thud.
Something floats.
 
Swan feathers in the sea oats.
Now I try that bright melody
 
but my feet are so slow
and my head is thick.
 
 
 

Karen Donovan's first book of poems, Fugitive Red, won the Juniper Prize and was published by University of Massachusetts Press. Her new collection, Your Enzymes Are Calling the Ancients, won the Lexi Rudnitsky Editor's Choice Award from Persea Books and is forthcoming in 2016. Donovan was co-editor of ΒΆ: A Magazine of Paragraphs, a journal of short prose published by Oat City Press, and she has had work most recently in Blackbird, Conjunctions, and Diagram. She works as a writer in Providence.