Jane O. Wayne


Jane O. Wayne is the author of four books of poetry, the latest of which is The Other Place You Live (Mayapple Press, 2010). A poem of hers along with an interview appeared in Catherine Rankovic’s Meet Me: Writers in St Louis (Penultimate Press, 2010). She has recent poems in Boulevard, Southern Poetry Review, New Mexico Poetry Review, Sou’wester, and Journal of American Medical Association.

If Mourning

then the waves swooning
at the foot of the beach
and the letting-go that lets
a body float when nothing’s left
but surrender,
world without gravity,
grief, the sea’s crescendo
that drowns out everything—
it could happen again.
I could be standing on the dock,
waving to an ocean-liner,
farewell streamers still in the air—
and all around, the vacancies
and dislocations—solids turning
into liquids.
I might open my mouth
to call, and my voice fail,
instead a shrill would start,
a thread tearing
between my teeth no one else
can hear,
some terrible high A—tinny
and relentless.
Come night I’ll dream past
the bridge where
the figure stands in the painting—
and keep walking, hands
clasped to my ears.

Talking with a physicist, I was intrigued by the unfamiliar terms vacancies and dislocations that describe the process when a solid loses its regularity and becomes a liquid. Perfect for my purpose here. Then the idea of some terrible high A comes from a long forgotten article that mentioned Robert Schumann was haunted at the end of his life by such a note. That continuing sound suggests the inner scream of grieving.