Sappho, fragment, Melanie Kronick Bookout

Amy Casey, Overwhelm, 2019, Acrylic on Panel, 36″ X 36″


Sappho, fragment


Who will get my red hair? Who inherits: Starling,
starling, I’ll let thee out, cost what it will.

My daughter, this is for you, should the gods
have wished to have allowed it;

unpregnant as I am.
My aunt said: Babies wait, or come

not when you beckon. Descend or no,
return when un-reckoned, or are called back.

My would-be Daughter, Beloved evermore,
elsewhere. Angel unaware? Unwary.

Do you hear me when I sing?

Melanie Kronick Bookout


Review by Jared Pearce

The consideration of motherhood, of what I am told and of which I can only guess as the deep connection forged between a woman who internally supports the growth of a human being, is for me quite fascinating, and this poem drives into the consideration a mother has for an unborn daughter. I am neither a mother, nor, even as a father, do I have any daughters. But this is why I find the poem so beautiful: the images allow for a greater sense of longing, of desire, of loneliness that reaches to us all. The initial image of the caged starling that will be released, the reliance on divinity or fate for a child, the final sense of hope that the daughter will have access to the speaker’s longing—a sense of unfulfilled promise, a sense of loss—touches many, perhaps all, of us. Because the hope, the poem, is built in such beauty, I join with the speaker in hope that the daughter—that the reader—will hear the song, the poem, the want. At the end, then, the question of the fragment might still be asked: is the poem, the daughter, the speaker, the reader, or the desire the fragment? I guess, yes, and no.

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