Poem of the Week, by Eileen Sheehan

This quote is from my novel All Rivers Flow to the Sea. It pops up here and there around the world, on Instagram pages and Pinterest boards, translated into various languages. It’s taken on a life of its own, one I couldn’t have predicted. But I do remember writing these words, how the sentences spun themselves out as if they were trying to tell me something important. This poem feels the same way.

Holding the Note, by Eileen Sheehan

Singing class began with me being asked
to sing the scale. The class would laugh.

I never laughed because I already knew
I could not hold a tune, except inside my head.

For almost half a term I dreaded
Thursday mornings, until I told my mother

how I was used as an anti-tuning fork
to demonstrate how not to climb the scale.

My mother simplified it all with her advice,
Girl, on Thursday next, don’t sing.

So, next class I met her gaze dead on,
sealed my mouth tight shut. No matter

how many times she ordered me,
I allowed not one sound escape my throat.

Silence spread across the room
like a held note. I knew I had her then

for silence was my realm, not hers.
She rammed the tuning fork against

the wooden desk and instructed the
best singer in the room to lead

the group. My mother never asked a thing
when I got home but she sang, around the house,

a song that had my name in it:
and the girl inside the song could sing.

I carry every word and turn to The Spinning
Wheel: inside my head I sing it still.

For more information about Eileen Sheehan, please click here.


Words by Winter: my podcast


  1. Lady Shamla Rose · May 21, 2022

    *Beloved Alison McGhee


    *I hope that it is alright with you, that I share what follows? As I was
    reading that, your message arrived, too.


    *When you’ve nothing to give *


    *But, the love within your heart *


    *A gentle touch *


    *Is everything *

    A Poem written by Athey Thompson

    Picture taken by J Peterson

    Held at the Shetland Museum Archives

    *I love the synchronicity of it all. What is even more, we watched a
    Hallmark Movie called /The Presence of Love./ It was all about poetry, too!

    In love, with love, for love
    Shamla of Shamballa*

    Liked by 1 person

    • alisonmcghee · May 23, 2022

      Dear Lady Shamla, how beautiful! And yes to the synchronicity of it all. XO


  2. Kathleen Wedl · May 21, 2022

    Love it flanked by espanol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • alisonmcghee · May 23, 2022

      A language I still intend to learn!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s