Sunday, April 19, 2009

r.i.p. , Deborah Digges

another poet lost to suicide, April 10, 2009.

Darwin's Finches
by Deborah Digges

My mother always called it a nest,
the multi-colored mass harvested

from her six daughters' brushes,
and handed it to one of us

after she had shaped it, as we sat in front
of the fire drying our hair.

She said some birds steal anything, a strand
of spider's web, or horse's mane,

the residue of sheep's wool in the grasses
near a fold

where every summer of her girlhood
hundreds nested.

Since then I've seen it for myself, their genius—
how they transform the useless.

I've seen plastics stripped and whittled
into a brilliant straw,

and newspapers—the dates, the years—
supporting the underweavings.

As tonight in our bed by the window
you brush my hair to help me sleep, and clean

the brush as my mother did, offering
the nest to the updraft.

I'd like to think it will be lifted as far
as the river, and catch in some white sycamore,

or drift, too light to sink, into the shaded inlets,
the bank-moss, where small fish, frogs, and insects

lay their eggs.
Would this constitute an afterlife?

The story goes that sailors, moored for weeks
off islands they called paradise,

stood in the early sunlight
cutting their hair. And the rare

birds there, nameless, almost extinct,
came down around them

and cleaned the decks
and disappeared into the trees above the sea.


bevjackson said...

Lovely. I just posted a video on my blog that you would enjoy too.
This really bothers me a LOT, she was too young.

Maryanne Stahl said...


I'll check out the video. (I get most of my lit news from your blog! )

robin andrea said...

What a stunning poem. An afterlife in a nest, a perfect depiction of death and birth.

calpoet said...

I was out of the country in April and for some reason I missed the news of Deborah Digges' death. When I read her remarkable poem in this week's New Yorker 9(AUG 24) I was stunned to see after her name, (1950-2009). I went to the internet and discovered not only had she died, but committed suicide, joining the sad list of poets of our time who have done so. Very very sad.