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Poetry / Alison Donnelly

‘Comes the Joy Late’

Issue 3. January 15, 2022


comes the joy late

when it comes.

(after) the last part of you, empty as the wrong end of an hourglass, broken as the china she handled with old eyes and wet hands,

inelegantly gives way

your hands, once competent and strong, empty and unfocused

what you had built, crumbled to the ground

your garden burned and barren

your heart, beating still but existing outside of your body, mere periphery


comes the joy late

when it comes

the floor is dry and everything that could have fallen has landed

Bennie with his flowers, you remember

Bennie spread joy with the flowers that grew

lived on his knees and was never alone

Different from you, you thought.

But how many degrees of separation are there between any two of us

innocent dreams, biting nightmares

heartfelt hopes and overwhelming fears

sure, you could be Bennie. Bennie could be you.


comes the joy late

when it comes

this is the opposite of that, it whispers

brushing your hair with a hand on your head

to lessen the smart

and you’ve known so much that that this thisness of this is so far from that that that

it almost hurts

It’s all inextricably tangled

point your tired finger to the sky

where shared stories started

to whippoorwill calling his own name

and say yours

to the sea, who finds the ocean every day but never finds it quite the same

[we all have been changed]

to your quiet place



comes the joy late

when it comes



Alison has returned to Scotland after spending two decades in the US, where she delighted in glow in the dark insects, raccoons, and cardinals. She is often found both wandering and wondering.

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