Saturday, November 28, 2009


for Tui

It's not that the dead go away
so cleanly, dawn absolute
as a steel knife

reflecting the driven clouds
& that we wake
our arms stretched out

the bed flat, smelling of mint
& starch, white
as those notes we never sent

The door slams.
There are funerals in far cities
a line of golden poplars, &

see now what they leave us:
sweaters & crystal, knives & rings.
They leave us possessed of things

with their hands held out
tossing us their coats, their old shoes
the bottled pills, the torn music

this terrible stillness

The first version of this poem was written 10 years ago, when my friend Tui, herself a poet (her real name is Anna, but we've known her as Tui for years and years now)--when Tui and I both went through a series of deaths and aftermaths. One of the things we remarked on was all the--remainders and reminders. The original version rather prosaically catalogued some of the things we'd each been left--I had some poignant lines about a sweater beaded with tears, but in revising took a lot of that out. I don't think I'm finished with this poem--or with the theme. I find I often try to write the same poem around 10 or 12 times before I get to what it should have been all along. Like life.


At May 29, 2011 3:13 PM , Anonymous marly youmans said...

I think that I probably like this version better--the simplicity of it, the renunciation of the earlier complexity of image.

Still puzzling about the "tossing." Kind of think that I'd like it to be less active...

The bed really becomes very crisp and clean when joined to those notes.


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