His poems refuse
to mourn his passing, they
detach themselves from
books, magazines, wall hangings
and float freely
in the fair summer air.
Their refusal to mourn is
steadfast. 'He's just changed
his address, ' one of his
first poems says to the new
lyrics. 'He's done this before,
searching for a better place to live.'
'And we always go with him, '
pipes a small poem, barely
audible, maybe not
completed, hardly a poem
at all. 'We are all of us
pieces of his soul, ' booms
the lordly Epic Poem
of 24 cantos. 'We must
catch up with him, restore
his soul to wholeness, then
together, all of our words
linked, all of our sentences
looped around each other,
we will be the ONE POEM
he always claimed
to be writing.' Murmurs
of approval for Epic's speech
crescendoed over the meadow,
into a harmony of voices that
was almost musical. 'Excuse me,
oh, pardon me.' From way in back
where the sequence poems
had clustered, Sonnet XIV
was coming forward. He
squeezed through a group
of illustrated narrative poems,
and eased himself past
the pastoral poems, reclining
on the yellow-green lawn.
Lacking the familiar support
of sonnets XIII and XV,
XIV was unsure of himself.
Epic graciously steadied him,
and introduced him to the assembly,
'Dear friends, ' he began softly,
'we sonnets were with him for hours
yesterday. He was reading
us to his three children. It was
the happiest afternoon! He read
sonnets by the two Rossetti's, brother
and sister, his favorites. Then,
just as the sun dipped and lights came on,
something happened. He suddenly
collapsed.' XIV breathed deeply.
'We watched as two of his childen
covered his face with a blanket.'
For a long moment, it was
just the green air of summer.
Then an immense cry
sliced the greenness, and it bled
grief over all the poems.
The Elegies, whose gray eyes
had held little hope, were
comforted by a volume of
haiku. Pairs of Love Poems
embraced fiercely to crush
grief before it could
propagate. Drinking Songs from
the Chinese laughed harshly and
poured more wine. Wisdom Poems
fell into stunned silence. The other
sonnets joined XIV and they all
bowed their heads. A straggle of
Free Versers assembled, reciting
OUT OF THE CRADLE, ENDLESSLY ROCKING.
They sheltered the small poem, confused, bereft.
It was dusk but no shadows
obscured the outlines of trees,
bushes and flower patches. The sun
had withdrawn, but left behind was
a spiritual glow, suffusing all
with yellow-gold, an unasked for grace
welcomed nonetheless for beauty's sake.
A procession had quietly formed
on the furthest margin of the meadow.
Prose Poems, from his last published
work, carried and pushed a huge
covered arch. They were silent,
except for a choral hum, which other
poems joined as it gathered them
into the procession, making it more
spacious and resonant. A smiling Epic
and the sonnets understood suddenly
what was happening, and joined
the Prose Poems, who welcomed them.
Together, they braced the arch
and removed the cover. Cheering
resounded across the meadow. Then,
in perfect silence, the poems
crossed the threshold, and entered
the open arch. Sonnet XIV paused.
'You see, he is not dead. He
lives in all of us. We are his
life eternal.' Then he too
disappeared within, as did
every poem, quietly entering -
THE COLLECTED POEMS OF - - -