Poetry Sunday: “Lamentation for the Children,”
by Beverly Burch


Lamentation for the Children


Children come, bringing bliss and wretchedness.
They come ready to be bruised.
Chain us with the soft tentacles of their openness.

Leave us pierced and threaded, bound for time
with thorns, singing behind the palings of love.
Like children. Though we are not.

Don’t look back, not once, at the trembling
in your arms, the bed where they slept.

They return like pagans walking toward
mid-winter light. Flanks bloodied and broken
or fat, satisfied. Limbs scarred by the beast,
hearts blown apart or triumph in their throats.
Grown sharp or blessing us, decency in their faces.

We die for love of the children.
With each death uncountable more are born.

Always, the world’s egg breaks open.


From Latter Days of Eve: Poems by Beverly Burch, BkMk Press, University of Missouri-Kansas City, October 2019. Reprinted with permission.


Beverly Burch’s third poetry collection, Latter Days of Eve, won the John Ciardi Poetry Prize and will appear in the fall of 2019. Previous books won the Lambda Literary Award and Gival Poetry Prize, and one was a finalist for the Audre Lorde Award. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Denver Quarterly, New England Review, Willow Springs, Salamander, Tinderbox, Mudlark, Barrow Street, and Poetry Northwest. Latter Days of Eveis available for purchase here and other poems from the collection are online at Mudlark and Canary.

Read about Burch’s earlier work here.


Poet’s Note

The first Eve poems came years ago but I never intended a narrative. Eventually I found myself writing a series of dystopian poems, unsure where they were going until Latter Days of Eve began to emerge. Raised in the South, a family deeply bound to church, I grew up immersed in biblical mythology. Years after freeing myself from its G-force, the beauty and structure of some scripture gave the book shape. A number of poems, including “Lamentation for the Children,” have titles adapted from books of the Bible. “They return like pagans walking toward/mid-winter light” is a line that came to me one night during a mid-winter retreat when I watched shadowy silhouettes of people walking toward the light of a meditation hall. These figures gripped my imagination in a way that left me wondering who they might be and to where they were returning.


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