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2 poems by Matthew Murrey

Einaudi’s Elegy for the Arctic

For the ones that walk,

the ones that fly,

and the ones that swim.

For the ragged face

of ice dripping, crumbling.

For the keys like teeth

he puts his fingers on.

For skin bared to the chill.

For lenses that help me

see what’s right

under my nose.

He pauses for a refrain

not scored or played—the ice

groaning and cracking, adagio

of crash and roar—the beginning

of the end. Once there was

so much ___________.

Now there is so little ___________.

Each note is delicate

like four hundred parts per million,

like three millimeters per year.

This is the music of the billions

upon billions of mouths

—the ones that speak

and the ones that do not.


Night takes the lake

while the sky keeps light

late, slow to give way

to the black and stars.

Here, no phones or sirens

break night’s quiet.

We sit with it

and then we hear—

sliding across the water,

slicing the dark—that rising

then fading trill,

older than shoes or words.

In time every nail

will give, every rivet fail,

every hard drive crash.

Even the roads we traveled

will return to gravel,

grass, trees, and brush.

That cry across the water—

was that you or the bird?


Matthew Murrey’s poems have appeared widely, recently in Split Rock Review and JAMA. He’s an NEA Fellowship recipient, and his debut collection, Bulletproof, was published in 2019 by Jacar Press. He’s a public school librarian in Urbana, Illinois where he lives with his partner; they have two grown sons.


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