The Claw
by Carolyn Srygley-Moore

Gentleness, despite the claw.
As one would take an orange apart, by segments, one takes apart

the source of light; what drives us

to praise music even as we destroy it, or it is taken in
by the untoward violin & shredded.

But not with pleasure. Forsaken, as one leaves

the injured bird in the bush, for her death should be wild;
taming would destroy her. Rather, purest death amongst

the weeds. Ghosts of the roadside

cattail, the wheat stalk, the goldenrod:
ghost of the man, ravaged by mini-strokes, who drove

the back roads collecting cans, cursing

the light. Pebbles of moon in the clearing, there is always
a way. The gentle. She sang halleluiah all night long,

although she had flatlined before – sang

until her pulse stopped at the forecast instant of
sunrise. Dawn. Like the motion of infant hands

in the curtains, the motion of wind. What drives us

onward, despite the claw? The words
of benediction pass over me like water.

I love water, but don’t know what it means,

as I cannot explain the pigeon
the cat caught, but did not kill.


* * *

“The Claw” (c) 2009 by Carolyn Srygley-Moore
all rights reserved, used with the poet’s permission

Carolyn Srygley-Moore is a long-ago, award-winning graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars. She has been a Pushcart nominee, widely published in journals including Eclectica, Mimesis, Antioch, Stirring, & the antiwar anthology Cost of Freedom. Her digital chapbook Enough Light on the Dogwood is available at She lives in Upstate New York with her husband & daughter.