Poetry

Stephen and Me

We did not care about convention or time. We would spend hours on the cool floor of the coop, chickens long gone, watching the light filter the dust.

And then Stephen stopped coming to school. Although he lived just across Collier Street, I did not know what had happened until he returned in the fall, 

a beanie covering his head and the laughter gone from his eyes. I was never to recapture those carefree days. At ten, I learned the true nature of things, that nothing remains the same. 

Emily Florence

 

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Everything Is Beautiful and I Am So Sad

This is how the heart makes a duet of wonder and grief. The light spraying through the lace of the fern is as delicate as the fibers of memory forming their web around the knot in my throat. The breeze makes the birds move from branch to branch as this ache makes me look for those I’ve lost in the next rooom, in the next song, in the laugh of the next stranger. In the very center under it all, what we have that no one can take away and all that we’ve lost face each other. It is there that I’m adrift, feeling punctured by a holiness that exists inside everything. I am so sad and everything is beautiful. 

Mark Nepo

Voices

Voices

Single One Way Trip—North Ferry Co.—Amount $4.50

The ticket was in my poetry book. It could have been from a trip to Cape Cod. Or maybe that trip to Shelter Island where I wanted to stay with you forever, isolated by the sea and the storm-beaten pines.

My love was enough but you were ill at ease and I did not interpret what your tension meant. I could not see what would come. 

The ticket was yellowed and creased. Time had faded the words and worn the edges. The North Ferry—now so unfamiliar a name.  

Emily Florence 

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To an Athlete Dying Young

The time you won your town the race we chaired you through the market-place; man and boy stood cheering by, and home we brought you shoulder-high. 

Today, the road all runners come, shoulder-high we bring you home, and set at your threshold down, townsmen of a stiller town. 

Smart lad, to slip betimes away from fields where glory does not stay and early though the laurel grows it withers quicker than a rose. 

Now you will not swell the rout of lads that wore their honors out, runners whom renown outran and the name died before the man. 

So set, before its echoes fade, the fleet foot on the sill of shade, and hold the low lintel up the still-defended challenge-cup. 

And round that early-laureled head will flock to gaze the strengthless dead, and find unwithered on its curls the garland briefer than a girl’s. 

A.E. Housman 

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The Masai have reported to the district commissioner that many times at sunrise and sunset, they have seen lions on Finch Hatton’s grave. A lion and a lioness have gone there and stood or lain on the grave for a long time. ...The ground around the grave was leveled out to a sort of terrace. I suppose that the level place makes a good site for the lions. From there they have a view over the plain and the cattle and game. Denys would like that.

Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) from Out of Africa

Atom Bombs

 

The red hills of Salina were reflected in her hair. Nearby, under government’s eye, a cold ugliness grew. 

It was covertly released into the air and entered the bodies of all who lived there. 

When forty years had passed, her black hair now white, she was awarded a sum to compensate for her life.

Emily Florence

 

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The Cowboy

Ruddy from Montana winds he straddles his painted pony and braces against the cold.

He cups his hand to light a cigarette, inhales and clenches his chiseled jaw.

I now search the leathered folds of my father’s face for that young cowboy

on a drive to Pocatello, his agate eyes gazing, big sky and life before him.

Emily Florence

 

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Final Words

When I told him we were going to let him go, his eyes flew open, not an objection, but his only way to express the fear.

His tattered body was immobile except for his eyes, eyes that come to me now in the ragged edges of sleep. 

My words wrapped him in a shawl, a gentle rain of things I have said so often and things I could not say before. 

And in the end as I stroked his forehead, words failed me. The profundity of death has no expression. It was silent but that was enough. 

Emily Florence

 

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