Daily Poetry: Ascension


Didi Jackson

The blue jays lay claim
to the raspberry bush
arriving in groups of four or five:
one holds a rubied berry in its beak
and feeds it up in the white pine to another
as if placing the bones of the canonized
into a gilded reliquary, and I think of the saint
for the mentally ill, beheaded by her father
who was blinded by desire
for his daughter; what became of him
but the colorless thread of grief,
a blind man who opened his eyes too late.

All grievances come to a head
like a champagne bottle shaken and shaken,
the cork volunteering its own release—my husband alone
in a hotel room, after the pills came the decision to empty himself,
the deep red circling his body becoming his own nimbus:
an ascension of sorts. I worried for his soul
and if he’d dwell in Hell: Boschian beasts
perched and ready for torture, exploding cities,
tooth-and-tonged caves waiting for the damned.

I hear the jays mocking a poor chickadee’s attempt
at reaching the fruit; it’s no wonder in legend
they are the devil’s servant not to be encountered on a Friday
as they might be found fetching sticks
down to Hell, but I know better, I can tell,
they do no one’s bidding but their own.