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Gaia¬†Holmes’s ‘The Banshees’

The Banshees
Gaia Holmes

He heard the Banshees singing
weeks before she died.
Each night their cold blue keening
stained his dreams, or in the day time
one of their discordant notes
would find him, get lodged in his body
like a trapped wasp, somewhere
between his heart and his brain.

I tried to diffuse their mournful racket,
trained myself to coo like a wood pigeon,
breathe, like yeast expanding in proving dough,
whisper, like the soft crackle of crocus shoots
pushing through the crust of a bulb.
I asked the wind to sing something gentle,
told the moon to hum as it nosed its way
through the dark, worked hard to raise
the volume of our bodies as we loved:
our hearts thumping, our blood roaring,
our bones colliding.

But on that day I had no song strong enough
to hold them back. They came wailing,
whey-faced, raw-eyed, stood at the end of the bed
and sung him the long, demented opera
of her death.