Their Pleas

By Kelly Cherry Kelly Cherry
They pluck my sleeve, tug my hand, pull
my hair. They do not kneel to kiss my hem.
No, it’s not like that but they want tokens.
Again, not souvenirs but something small
and useful, something that will help them out
after life, maybe in an underworld.
They need a sighted guide to lead them to
the river, and they need a remnant of
the old world as they embark for the older world,
the one that has existed since the first
grievous death. They need to feel they still
can touch and still be touched, as once they did
and were, and one would have to be a cold,
uncaring woman to deny their pleas:
a woman with a bulletproof  heart,
without a memory of life on earth.

Source: Poetry (January 2013).


This poem originally appeared in the January 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

January 2013
 Kelly  Cherry


Kelly Cherry was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and grew up in Ithaca, New York, and Chesterfield County, Virginia. She did graduate work in philosophy at the University of Virginia and earned an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Cherry was the daughter of violinists, and her early exposure to music has had a profound affect on her work, which ranges in genre from poetry to novels to short fiction to . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, The Body, The Mind, Mythology & Folklore, Ghosts & the Supernatural

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Report a problem with this poem

Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.