2 Poems

Poetry / Virginia Konchan 


:: Lamentation ::

Please take a moment to fill out these forms. 
Six hours later, yes, the forms have been filled. 
I’ve drunk the bitter cup, eaten bread of sorrow,  
lived to know that work is bad for your health.  
The paperwork enshrouding it, the routine bills 
and insurance premiums justifying it, like a kick 
in the teeth of a thoroughly benumbed stud horse, 
whose only value is to generate seed, as decreed. 
Expecting someone from the slacker generation  
to work 60-hour weeks and be delighted about it 
is an unwholesome delusion in need of crushing. 
Wealth as having an extra bag of boiled rice is a   
measure of economic progress I long to surpass. 
Am I more than the sum of every high and low? 
Will He who smote great nations, slew mighty   
kings, majestically vanquish my enemies, too? 
Other than a couple awkward hugs, I have not  
been touched in years. Forgive me, my body 
has not been touched in years, thanks to the  
invisible fencing I professionally installed, 
otherwise known as an energetic boundary. 
Words make or break us: bring peace, war. 
I hold my phone like it’s a chalice or vessel,  
when really it’s just a phone. What portent, 
what auspicious omen do I expect to come, 
funnelling through electromagnetic smog? 
Gadgets jockey for my precious attention,  
already subdivided like a federal territory. 
Giants fall, mountains move, waters part: 
no further proof is needed of God, I see. 
I click to insert my signature, whereof I’m 
glad: thou hast dealt bountifully with me.  

:: Anemone ::

The white anemone is a cruel gift, Father.  
A perennial, it’s born to die, and not return. 
Anemone, Greek for “daughter of the wind.” 
Something must have happened to the mother, 
stewards of the earth say, when seeing a litter 
of kittens, bunnies, squirrels, or baby birds 
fallen from the sky. We mimic her motions,  
her fastidious hovering, maternal diligence, 
hoping abandoned fledglings might survive. 
My sister wound a plastic flower at the foot 
of my mother’s hospice bed, to bring cheer. 
I adjusted the curtains: is it too much light? 
Not enough? She stared at and through me, 
unable to have or articulate her preference. 
Instead, I spoke, because she could hear.  
In heaven, nothing changes, save for the 
concealing and magnifying of presence. 
I can picture it, a bucolic pastoral scene: 
shepherdess herding cows by your side. 
Yet with a single turn of fortune’s wheel 
I found myself impersonal and asexual: 
no known next-of-kin, no cause or cure. 
I don’t steal, I don’t harm or hit anyone. 
I routinely act irrespective of how I feel.  
For what am I preparing: my own death? 
Forgive me, please, for misrecognition, 
for preferring to stand alone in a field. 
I thought to save you by saving myself, 
which I know is the saddest departing. 
The more I become myself, the more I  
betray the world.

From the writer


:: Account ::

Lamen­ta­tion” and “Anemone” are includ­ed in my forth­com­ing poet­ry col­lec­tion Requiem (Carnegie Mel­lon Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2025), a col­lec­tion anchored in per­son­al and col­lec­tive grief, remem­brance, and com­mem­o­ra­tion, jour­ney­ing through the loss of a moth­er in a series of ele­gies, fugues, and lamen­ta­tions that draw from the Church’s canon­i­cal hours of prayer as col­lect­ed in a bre­viary. “Lamen­ta­tion” con­stel­lates grief into anger towards tech­no-bureau­crat­ic ide­ol­o­gy and the depre­da­tions of cor­po­rate cul­ture, ongo­ing through a har­row­ing loss, and a cri de coeur to a salvif­ic god. “Anemone,” inspired by Louise Glück’s Wild Iris, is a med­i­ta­tion on mor­tal­i­ty and the strug­gle to con­tin­ue liv­ing while car­ing for my moth­er in hos­pice for close to two years. In those years, she had no motor func­tion and lim­it­ed cog­ni­tive func­tion, and these poems became a way for me to speak back to the grief (antic­i­pa­to­ry and real, after she passed away in Decem­ber 2023), as well as the feel­ing that I had become not only her care­giv­er but also an inter­preter of her agency and desires, no longer com­mu­ni­cat­ed in ver­bal or writ­ten lan­guage but rather the lan­guage of the heart.  


Vir­ginia Kon­chan is the author of five poet­ry col­lec­tions, includ­ing Requiem (Carnegie Mel­lon Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2025), and Bel Can­to (Carnegie Mel­lon, 2022). Coed­i­tor of Mar­bles on the Floor: How to Assem­ble a Book of Poems (Uni­ver­si­ty of Akron Press, 2023), and recip­i­ent of fel­low­ships from the Amy Clampitt Res­i­den­cy and the Nation­al Endow­ment for the Human­i­ties, her poems have appeared in The New York­er, The New Repub­lic, The Atlantic, and the Acad­e­my of Amer­i­can Poets.