The Sound of God Singing: A Contrapuntal for Three Voices

by Olga Dugan

…and in the night his song shall be with me (from Psalm 42:8)


daughter of a Pearl Harbor survivor
describes the USS Arizona Memorial—
striding the sunken ship
weeping tears of oil for 1,177 names
carved black and deep into the shrine
room’s marble white wallbut,
she adds, running slight hands over
the names of a few friends,
mates of her Dad’s, there’s something
reassuring in ways moon and sunlight
day and night illumine each name
traveling marble waves heavenward


another woman takes up where
the survivor’s daughter leaves off
yes, she says, the US, shore to shore
now bears the wrath of other wars
look at the casualties of racism
sexism, ageism, ableism, classicism
by the thousands remaining
nameless, no marble wall for them
and yet, she gathers a knowing calm
so many of their nameless-grieving
claim comfort in pressing watchers’
ears to sudden gusts of chances
they might help other wounded hearts
learn the art of suffering, of finding
faith just to breathe and believe
till hard nights edge into morning


I join them, thinking aloud how—
the universe swells black space
between stars, distance between
galaxies—the farthest receding faster—
but, how the earth’s people remain
one community, I ask them to look
at the ways winter winds can still
silence city streets and country roads
alike, to imagine how gales can sweep
snow-covered pine cones into clusters
cornering the steps of old churches
where familial strangers huddle up
to raise hymns with a Sister Joanna,
Brother Joe, to shout down pain
and sorrow as they clap like
multitudes of leaves, sway like
twigs in the whirling rhythms
and beats of that surpassing joy
we’re talking about right now,
Ladies… that joy giving each of us
ears to hear the same song

Olga Dugan is a Cave Canem poet. Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, her poems appear in many anthologies and literary journals including Ekstasis, Saint Katherine Review, Relief: A Journal of Art and Faith, The Windhover, Anti-Heroin Chic, Poems from Pandemia – An Anthology, Cave Canem Anthology: XIII, and Red Moon Anthology of Modern English Haiku. Articles on poetry and cultural memory appear in The Journal of African American History, The North Star, and in Emory University’s “Following the Fellows.”

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