Sonata by Martin Willitts Jr.


Sun-rich, in a translucent stream, breeze-free,
a thrum-sound spills endlessly to a larger river,
passing white pines like a solemn prayer.

My father died quietly
like a dragonfly over the glass-like water,
or like lark-song in a red garden of intention.

Shaken, my prayer flew indirectly
like a paper kite butterfly.

Dawn likes to swoop in
when we are sad;
but even then, loss lodges
like a peach pit in our throat.

Mourning has terraces,
revelations of love and grief,
striking like lightning
with a quiet, after-calm.

Sometimes, the soul cartwheels after death.
Sometimes, the soul is wetness on grass.
Sometimes, the soul returns with its music
and nests inside the heart
with a constant stream of memory.

I like to believe my father taps on my window
when I hear ticking rain. Perhaps it’s his pulse.
Perhaps, his memory is a stone in the river.

And when my mother died quietly,
sending a murmuring of starlings
carrying her soul into everlasting waters,
I was convinced—

Love never ends;
it’s always beginning and reaffirming.

by Martin Willitts Jr.

Martin on Facebook

Editor’s Note: This poem’s rich metaphor and imagery revolves around the speaker’s contemplation of death and love, and all of the stuff in between these truths.


2 responses to “Sonata by Martin Willitts Jr.”

  1. m lewis redford Avatar

    Absolutely marvellous; there was a definite journey here, the river is always flowing, but by the end of the poem the ‘flow’ had flapped over itself (like the murmur of starlings, like a moebius strip) – a complete transformation, but still there over the river

  2. Gloria Heffernan Avatar

    Today would be my father’s 104th birthday. He died when I was three years old, so I don’t have any of the conscious memories of what I thought or felt at the time, but I believe this poem speaks to anyone who has known such loss at any age. Thank you Martin.

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