Elegy for Those Not Yet Departed
This much I'm sure. It is hard to believe
in another morning's gift now that the evening
lawn has learned to grieve. Tonight moonlight
keeps sending its condolences, as if forgotten
whites on the line at the far end of the yard
can no longer bear a body's absence, and
that faint slant of lost light from a kitchen
window is not enough to bring anyone back.
Yet no one has left to forget that familiar way
home, those simple names of neighborhood streets:
Elm, Oak & Maple. Outside this window empty trees
keep rehearsing a sadness I wish I could ease.
Restless curtains ghost about as if they have some
other place to go. The once sure shadows have
now grown weary of their own quiet visits. Still
this room tries to hold onto everything it can.
Dresser mirror shines. Full moon shifts
to leave itself upon the polished floor - spent soul
too tired to find its body. But this is not a scene
where the sheet is slowly drawn over the head, or
the doctor helplessly closes his black leather bag.
The lawn has no reason for its plain, dark suit,
this solemn night - its one pale chrysanthemum.
Soon daylight will slip between the limbs,
begin to soften the lonesome, walled sorrow
of shadows. Even the last geese
that shall rise across this endless, gray longing
will not make much of what they leave behind -
no winter song for lifeless trees
nor grief given nights in the glove-quiet
that a pallbearer wears, finding
what it's like to touch & not feel.
- Gregory Sellers