to Live Alone
Awake, I hear night sounds I can't identify.
I interpret the whippoorwill's song
as signals from the dead,
magnify the hard-shelled beetle's thump
against the house into awkward phantoms
lurking in the yard.
Reading Dracula when I was young,
I imagined the swish of a tree branch
was the brush of his wings against my window.
I would cross my arms across my chest
and choke back the voice
that wanted to invite him in.
Now, I am learning to sing in Italian. Unfamiliar
words twist in my mouth, sounds I do not intend, the
sharp taste of frustration bitter on my tongue. It takes
practice, says my teacher, breathe.
For years I listened to the music
of others' dreams, lulled by shared rhythms
that kept my own silent. Now, at mid-life
I am learning to live alone—
the sound of wings as dark
as a widow's imagination
still wakes me in the night.
Practice, I say to myself, breathe.
© 2005 Sally Logan
photo by Pauline & Lizbeth
Sally Logan is a graduate of The University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Carolina Playmakers produced
two of her one-act plays while she was a graduate student
in Dramatic Art. Her poetry has been published in many journals,
including Tar River Poetry, Southern Poetry Review,
Crucible, Asheville Poetry Review, and Pembroke
Magazine. Her poetry won first place in Crucible's
literary contest three times.
In 1999, she was selected for the North Carolina
Writers' Network Blumenthal Writers and Readers Series, and
in 2000, for the Vision and Voice Art and Poetry Series sponsored
by the Arts Council of Moore County. She serves on the board
of Whispering Center for the Arts and Humanities in Southern
Sally lived in Whispering Pines, near where
she was born, for thirty years before moving to Chapel Hill.
She sings with the Chapel Hill Community Chorus and enjoys
gardening, bird watching, and playing with her two grandchildren.
"Sally Logan's Vigils for the Dead
cuts through the underbrush of cliche into the clearing where
language comes alive, giving us the singular vision of one
woman's journey through grief into the center of the lyric
moment where the world delivers its consolations—feather,
flash of wing, glint of sun, the sky opening and opening before
us. I know of no other poet writing today who brings to the
subject of loss such clear-eyed lyricism, each detail perfectly
weighted, each image ringing true. This collection is quite
simply a triumph of the poetic imagination over the losses
that confront not only the poet but each one of her readers."
—Kathryn Stripling Byer, author
of Wildwood Flower and Catching Light, Poet
Laureate of North Carolina
"Sally Logan works a spell on the reader.
This humane and altogether extraordinary collection has the
capacity to move and to startle. It revolves around loss,
but is not dark and heavy with grief. Instead, Logan, a poet
with a clear sense of herself and her art, 'imagines light,
the sky/opening and opening before her.'"
—Judy Goldman, author of The Slow
Way Back and Early Leaving