Someone I loved once
gave me a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this too, was a gift.
—MARY OLIVER
"The Uses of Sorrow"

 

My mother sacrificed so much.
I try to mend fractured relations,
let light flicker into the sheltered past.
We packed whole lives into bundles
in search of what chooses us,
what wants to come back to the surface,
what needs to be said.
We had so many dreams
we didn’t know what to make of them.
And so with leopard’s ears
I hear beyond the range of sound
the ineffable, the sublime, my mother’s
breath, grandmother’s smile, ancestors’
voices, to soothe and heal the sorrow.
 

“In Search of Benevolent Immortality” was first published in
 Life in Suspension (Salmon Poetry, Ireland, 2016)

Hélène Cardona was born in Paris and raised all over Europe before settling in the US. She earned her MA in American literature from the Sorbonne, where she wrote her thesis on Henry James. She is the author of 7 books, more recently the bilingual collections Life in Suspension, called “a vivid self-portrait as scholar, seer and muse” by John Ashbery, and Dreaming My Animal Selves, described by David Mason as “liminal, mystical and other-worldly.” Cardona’s luminous poetry, hailed as visionary by Richard Wilbur, explores consciousness, the power of place, and ancestral roots. It is poetry of alchemy and healing, a gateway to the unconscious and the dream world.

Her translations include Beyond Elsewhere (Gabriel Arnou-Laujeac), winner of a Hemingway Grant; Ce que nousportons (Dorianne Laux); Birnam Wood (José Manuel Cardona): and Walt Whitman’s Civil War Writings for WhitmanWeb. She contributes essays to The London Magazine, and co-edits Plume, Fulcrum, and Levure Littéraire.