The nature of loss 
(Audrey Molloy)

Widow-makers, they call your boughs that plunge  
                 without warning, crush soft bodies beneath. 
Yet I know you are not death but grief’s balled fist come down. 

For seven years I decompose below your weight, 
                 implore the fungi to molest me with tiny threads   
of Jelly Rot or Sulphur Tuft, but they don’t listen. 

Take my eye, I whisper to the iridescent beetle.  
                 Her larvae carve your heartwood galleries  
for woodlouse and millipede, but she ignores me. 

Acids and mandibles shape your starch and lignins  
                 to a cross I heave upon my back, stagger beneath. 
(People think crucifixion is to kill you, but it’s to keep you alive). 

I find, one day, that I can take a lungful of air,  
                 push it out through perished chords to sky. 
It was there all along, yet birdless for a time. 

Slowly you compress, a constant weight, smaller by the year. 
                 I guard you like my once-life, all I know. 
You are all I’ve left.  Two thousand degrees       

of the heart’s furnace will wring you dry, 
                 spring your carbon bonds, form the crystal lattice  
of this stone I carry on my index finger (can you see it?) 

signaling like a firefly in the forest, over here!   
                 I cannot say I have nothing 
as long as there exists this one pure, shining thing. 


Audrey Molloy is an emerging Irish-Australian poet based in Sydney. Her poetry has been widely published, appearing in journals such as Overland, Cordite, Meanjin, Southerly, The North, Magma, The Moth and The Irish Times. She received the Hennessy Award for Emerging Poetry (Ireland) in 2019 and was nominated for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in 2018. She has been shortlisted for several other awards. Find more from Audrey at her website