Kyrie by Ellen Bryant Voigt

Kyrie is a series a poems about the Spanish flu epidemic of 1919, linked by a group of characters who are neighbors and friends and who are both at war in Europe and home in the US.  The poems are unrhymed sonnets, and have a brevity that lends them power.  They are prayers, as they claim (some very literally), but also a literary dans macabre.  These are beautiful, haunting psalms.  Buy here.


Excepts from various poems:

My mother was an angel out of heaven. / My father was a viper. I wished him dead, / then he was dead. But she was too.

We'd had a late frost, a ruined spring, / a single jay was fretting in the bush, / quick blue smudge in the laden spikes of lilac: / it was an angel singing--don't you see: / it might as well have been a bush on fire.


And the entire poem "Prologue"

After the first year, weeds and scrub; / after five, juniper and birch, / alders filling in among the briars; / ten more years, maples rise and thicken; / forty years, the birches crowded out, / a new world swarms on the floor of the hardwood forest. / And who can tell us where there was an orchard, / where a swing, where the smokehouse stood?