Ghazal for Emilie Parker by Carolyne Wright


“Ghazal for Emilie Parker” by Carolyne Wright


                 (Newtown, Connecticut: December 14, 2012)


He had been teaching her to speak Portuguese
So their last words together were in Portuguese.

Such simple words that morning: Thank you. Please.
I love you, Daddy. All in Portuguese.

Then he rode off to work, past winter trees
And she to school, smiling to herself in Portuguese.

She fell with her classmates, the other girls and boys,
Folding into herself like snow. No tongue, no Portuguese,

No hearts that walk outside their lives in fields
That winter can’t amend. No Portuguese

Can call them back, unspeak their parents’ grief
In English, Spanish, Chinese, Hebrew, Portuguese—

Oh Charlotte. Daniel. Olivia. Josephine. Ana.
Dylan. Madeleine. Catherine. Chase.

Jesse. James. Emilie. Jack. Noah. Caroline.
Jessica. Benjamin. Avielle. Alison. Grace.


First published in North American Review, Vol. 299, No. 2, Spring 2014.
James Hearst Poetry Prize (Third Place).

Reprinted in This Dream the World: New & Selected Poems (Lost Horse Press, 2017).
© 2017 by Carolyne Wright.



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image by Jim Parrott


Carolyne Wright Artist Statement:

This poem was written in response to the December 2012, Sandy Hook School shooting, after I heard the National Public Radio report on December 16, 2012, which featured Dr. Robbie Parker’s tribute to his daughter Emilie:

Carolyne Wright’s ground-breaking anthology, Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy
the Workspace (Lost Horse Press, 2015), is recipient of 10 Pushcart Prize nominations and
finalist in Foreword Review’s Book of the Year Awards. Her nine volumes of poetry include
Seasons of Mangoes and Brainfire (Eastern Washington UP/Lynx House Books), which won the
Blue Lynx Prize and American Book Award; and A Change of Maps (Lost Horse), an Alice Fay
di Castagnola Award finalist. She also has five volumes of poetry in translation from Spanish
and Bengali. Wright lived in Chile and traveled in Brazil on a Fulbright Grant during the
presidency of Salvador Allende; and spent four years on fellowships in India and Bangladesh,
translating Bengali women poets. She returned to her native Seattle in 2005, and has taught for
the Whidbey Writers Workshop MFA Program and for Richard Hugo House ever since. A
Contributing Editor for the Pushcart Prizes, Wright has received grants and fellowships from the
NEA, 4Culture, and Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture.



Author: A Room of Her Own

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