Poetry: Those First Days by Fay Dillof

As an elegy, “Those First Days” asks us, with good humor and friendly temper, to reflect on loss, on being trapped in tragedy’s den while beauty softly pours itself over the earth outside. Fay Dillof is mesmerizing here: gentle and deliberate with her voice, her language, and her sorrow.


Those First Days

Those first days, crows—
more than I’d ever seen, hundreds—cawed,
circling the ice-shocked trees, while we ate
small blue pills to sleep and waited
for the thaw. The world, from inside his coat,
shimmered. A field of snow—the clouds.
His voice, still low and near.
Until one day, the earth now soft
enough to bury him, we gathered at the lake to drink
the wine and blink our eyes. And when,
in the thick of night, my mother woke
and screamed his name, heavy as we were
with sleep, we lumbered animal-scared and clumsy.
We didn’t know until the light
propelled us out
that curled up in the dark—
the world without him, yes,
but all, each bare branch,
so also full of him
not being there—
how un-lonely we had been.



Fay Dillof

Fay Dillof lives in Northern California where she works as a psychotherapist. Her poetry has appeared in FIELD, New Ohio Review, Sugar House Review, Spillway, Mid-American Review, Bellevue Literary Review, RHINO, and elsewhere, and been featured in Poetry Daily. A graduate of Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers, and a recipient of scholarships from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, Fay wishes she could find the exact quote in which Marguerite Duras says something akin to “Try as I might, I can’t tell you why I write, only that I do not understand how others do not.”

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