My Daughter Sees a Starling on the Lawn

I thought to tell you how the bird was called,
What symbol circumscribed the creature’s being;
Intending to give your mind a better hold
On the unsought resplendence it was seeing.

But having gestured towards an utterance,
I caught the purple wonder in your stare,
Reflecting an unreflective jubilance
Of which your thoughts could hardly be aware;

And lest too early knowledge should destroy
The primal reason pulsing through your frame,
I held my tongue, and left you to your joy,
Sufficient with the grace before the name.



My Daughter Smiles in Her Sleep

Some echo maybe of the simple themes
Recurrently unwinding from your toys;
Some analog to listening in dreams
That represents your mother’s tranquil voice;

The cadence of my breathing, or the plush,
Recumbent pleasure of your swaddling cloth;
Or else the feeding that has left you flush
And settled to a mute, appropriate sloth;

Whichever of these, the impulse that it loosed
To flit about your organizing brain
Will reify to a vision well adduced
Sometime among your memories that remain;

A kindly apparition, lurking in
The layered shadows of your consciousness –
A haunting and a comfort to you, when
Your years are tried by tedium or duress.

Then you will wonder how a certain scent,
A certain tune, or certain fall of light,
Can, with their own quotidian accidents,
Wake longings tending towards the infinite;

Or why some vague impression half recalled
Out of the general hunger of your youth,
Can leave your unsuspecting soul enthralled
With intimations of another truth;

And from the scattered threads of these perceptions
Your mind will weave a sign of paradise,
Consoling you, in its sublime conception,
Out of a future where its promise lies.

So hackneyed legends tell of mariner’s wives
Waiting, in hope, along a monotonous coast
For husbands who already lost their lives
When the schooner that they traded in were lost;

And how they conjured to their minds his form,
His kindly ways, and high gentility,
Who even then was lurching in the storm,
And the fury of an irretrievable sea.



Mark Anthony Signorelli is a poet and author whose work has appeared in a variety of journals, including Modern Age, Arion, The Evansville Review, and the University Bookman.  He is a member of the Academy of Philosophy and Letters.

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7 Responses

  1. Alan

    The first poem seems to be about the immediacy of experience, unsullied by conceptual thinking. How soon we put names and labels on everything and think that proves we understand those things.

    Science takes things apart and analyzes each part, but perhaps there is no meaning in the parts by themselves. (A cell, by itself in a petri dish without a surrounding medium, would soon die, I imagine.) Perhaps the parts find their meaning and purpose in being connected to the whole.

    In the same way, your daughter might be able to enjoy the experience of seeing a starling or a star in ways that adults can hardly imagine. Children seek to integrate new experiences and soon they begin to ask questions about everything. Let’s hope we don’t give them simple or trite answers, especially if we don’t know. Perhaps we can learn as much from children as they can from us. To a child, everything is new and inspires wonder. And when we are with them, we are reminded, however dimly, of what it used to be like for us.

  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    “My Daughter Smiles in Her Sleep” is a tour de force — a sustained disquisition in ten perfect quatrains using the most exquisite words. Note also that the entire poem is composed of three sentences only! The first ends at quatrain 4, the second at quatrain 7, and the third at quatrain 10. It takes a master’s control of grammar and syntax to pull that off.

    And within the framework of all this linguistic and metrical skill, the poet is able to set forth a complex argument about childhood memory, adult recollection, the paradise to come, and the unexpected and shocking finale of mariners’ wives and the tragic loss of their husbands in “an irretrievable sea.”


  3. Leo Zoutewelle

    I was so caught up in the beauty of your English that I could find little time to appreciate the poem’s other qualities so admirably described by Joseph above. Please excuse me for copying Joseph’s last word; it was deeply meant!

  4. Anna J. Arredondo

    I very much enjoyed the first poem, and admire your skill in capturing that moment. As a mother, I appreciate the tender sentiment, and as a home educating mother, I particularly appreciate the reminder to more often hold my tongue and leave my children to their joy!

  5. C.B. Anderson

    These poems reminded me of what I experience when I spend time with my two-year-old granddaughter — getting to see a young child’s delight in a world not yet made rigid and regular by the imposition of an orderly language. We, as adults and as poets, can sometimes, when we are at our best, return to the inchoate world we knew when we ourselves had not yet mastered, or been mastered by, language. Unless ye become as little children ….

  6. David Watt

    To truly observe and sensitively reflect on a child in their sleep is admirable. Eloquently conveying that experience, as you have done, and ‘broadening the brush’ to demonstrate the value of dreams as a life’s resource takes great skill.


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