Lily, JB Mulligan

Amy Casey, treedhouse, 2019, Acrylic on Paper, 10″ X 14″




The umbilical noose couldn’t stop you (as I’m sure
it choked so many new-blossomed dreams
across the fields) and in clouded visions
of the world that (slouching and fluttering) comes
after me, you are unendingly there
in all possible what-must-be variations.
You have the beautiful, semi-inflated face
of all breathing infants
and a fisted grasp
of eat-poop-sleep, from what your mother says.
Your sigh, your smile, your grunt of pain or gasp
of delight, are in some undiscovered place
and time when I will only be what was.
But seeds of hope shake off from me and drift
toward your future, where they’ll float aloft,
a dead man’s wishes: warm and futile gift.

JB Mulligan


Review by David Memmott

The subject of Lily coming through a difficult birth, I think, is further strengthened by the form: an irregular sonnet with an irregular iambic pentameter and a rhyme scheme of ABCBAC/DEFEDF/GGG. It begins choked and inspires. Strong images of baby doing baby things, i.e. breathing, grasping, sigh and grunt, “in some undiscovered place and time” once the poet is gone. But I am lifted at the end, drifting toward the future, “a dead man’s wishes.” The form tightens at the end in both meter and rhyme. The poem feels like a womb that holds all kinds of potential, so much newness can happen within its constraints.   



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