Donna Doyle is a native of East Tennessee. She is Poet-in-Residence at Preston Medical Library where she coordinates a reading series and facilitates narrative medicine workshops. In addition to several Knoxville Writers Guild publications, her anthologized poems are included in Knoxville Bound, Motif 3: All the Livelong Day - Writings About Work, and The Southern Poetry Anthology Vol. III: Contemporary Appalachia. Her poetry has received numerous awards including the Libba Moore Gray Poetry Prize, the New Millennium Writings Poetry Prize, and the Tennessee Mountain Writers Poetry Award. Most recently, her poetry has been published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA); she has work forthcoming in CHEST. She is the author of a chapbook, Heading Home. Donna  lives in North Knoxville with her husband, a cat, and one ghost cat. Their backyard is a forested ridge.




Not the staircase dreamed as a child,
my grandmother beckoning at the top,
but a wooden ladder, simple and rough,
leading to a hay-cushioned loft.
No music, no glittering gates,
hands of the holy or long deceased.
Just this splintered climb,
scent of feed and animals,
fine-tuned chords of lowing
and baaing, occasional throaty cluck.
So slow the ascent, it seems
there will be no arrival, until
the miracled hand in this world
reaches, supports without pushing.
Sweet glory, the gift the living bestow
on the dying, pressing, laying on
their unremarkable hands.






Mending Pile


Every day the heap
of what needs repair
grows taller, teeters
like lost hope, seams
broken by reaching,
fabric faded beyond
thrift, flotsam flutter
like fog winging pine.
You lift the stack,
hold close the mountain.
Comfort cleaves,
a warm heel of bread
curved into your palm.
Without squinting,
you thread the impossible
eye of the needle.
One bright button dances
against all that is tired
of hanging in there, while
you patch together pieces
with what remnants remain.






Rise and Shine


Born the same day my husband
almost died, your granddaughter rose,
shone like the sun I never saw
while shuttered in waiting.

And, you, midwife between
two worlds, bore witness  -
one woman contracted by grief,
another pushing toward life.

Did you hear our moans merge
across humid miles, feel storm fronts
move in thundered veins, taste skin
glistened with sweat and static charge?

Did you see forward to this present?
Every morning each of us rising and
shining, mouths yawned open to capture
storm-drenched remnants of light.








It should be easy.
Wielding a shovel,
digging damp earth.
A common chore, but
since the stroke
every day rains
elements of nature
against man.
A few clumps
carried home,
will soon twine,
stretch endless
reminders across
ground where
nothing else easily grows.
Save the will to flourish,
invasive with blooms.






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