the healing muse

Volume 13, 2013

Two poems by Robert W. Daly

Don’t Touch


It was her dresser, with her things, a place that belonged to her, was her.
      “Mine,” she’d say.

“Do not touch the dresser set—the comb, the brush, the mirror with my
      initials engraved by the silversmith.
Do not touch the green, cut glass pitcher that Alice gave me, or the
      white Madonna, or the three dogs, or the olive wood carving of The
      Flight into Egypt, or my perfume, or the blue tile with the hand
       holding a heart. A valentine from you.
Don’t even move your picture, you as ‘a college man,’ the one you gave
      me when I was sixteen and you were twenty-two. And don’t put
      any thing on my dresser.”

“Can I look in the mirror?” I wondered.

So it was, for decades.


Even after she died, right there in front of all of us and the dresser, it
      remained hers. For months I kept the dresser just as it was, a
      shrine, a sacred place beyond use, dedicated to love and

Then today, crying and lonely, I looked at her things and the dresser. Still
      among the living, I saw anew my picture.
      She had wanted it there, for her, then.

Now, this picture does not belong. I want it gone.
      It feeds my grief and loss
      I place it out of sight.

What of the green pitcher and the other things? The dresser? Will they,
      in time, be restored to common use, released from their duties as
      memorials, hers and mine?

Certainly, but not yet.

The Robin

With first light, a robin wakes me with his call.
He lives in the yew outside my window.

He sings again at six am—a song so bright
I do not summon dark omens about the day.

I spot his rusted breast and urgent steps
as he forages my lawn
in the morning sun.

I do not know to whom he calls,
yet find his presence good,
before The Times arrives.

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