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Wind Chimes in the Deep Blue Upside-Down Heaven

In this poem, God is a fish
And light floods the cove like high tide.
A rainbow swims in the sea.
I am safe on high ground, holding
The hand of my small daughter.

I am not safe. I have no daughter.
I am my mother’s daughter
And I am holding her hand,
But she is drowning.

We have left the poem. I have let go
My mother’s hand, and it is my fault that
She is drowning. Now no one can save her
Except God, who is a fish with scales like wind chimes.
In the deep blue upside-down heaven, God glows as if phosphorescent.

On his silvery back, my mother rides
Away from me, grasping his fins in her hands.
All the music I have ever known is becoming fainter and fainter,
Ebbing into silence.

In the poem, the name of the daughter I do not have is Rainbow,
And I am holding her hand because she must never leave me,
But I am drowning because I have no daughter,
And the light that poured out of the sky has drained into darkness
Earlier than anyone expected,

Ebbing into silence.


Kelly Cherry (b. 1940) is an author, poet, and former Poet Laureate of Virginia (2010–2012).