Elise Hempel: “The Cardinal”


Today, I don’t know why,
I chose a different view,
decided not to try
to wholly understand you

or know your darkness now,
decided not to guess
what death is like, to somehow
feel its emptiness.

Today I woke, no need
to empathize, to have
jointness, be agreed,
consider your perspective.

I chose to see today
no vast hole, no absence,
and through the April gray
this small red brilliance.

Elise Hempel has worked as an editor, proofreader, copywriter and university English instructor.  Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Poetry, Measure, Southern Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry, and Midwest Quarterly, as well as in Poetry Daily and Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry.  She is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Literary Award and the winner of the 2015 Able Muse Write Prize in Poetry, the 2016 String Poet Prize, and the 2017 No Chair Press Chapbook Contest.  Her full-length collection of poems, Second Rain, was published by Able Muse Press in 2016.  

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