I loved a woman who loved the earth.
I met a man who was going there,
where you had lifted the faces of children.
He now works where you are buried.
He scratched his chin and said, “I know
someone is out there, beneath a tree,
but I don’t know who she was.”
When you were dying, your thin
wrist in my hand, I knew I’d be here,
in this day, busting with my sense of
you before people who never
heard your voice.
Forgive me. It is impossible
to keep your memory alive.
Even your father never sent me
the picture that split me with an ache,
the one with long brown hair
from years before we met.
He never sent it, though I asked
three times. And now like all memorials,
the spirit’s gone, aerating the earth
and stone is stone, tree is tree
except your ash has fed its root.
Forgive me. I keep writing your name
but can’t out-write the wave of life
that sweeps you from the sand.
No matter how I sing of you,
there’s always someone who appears
just as I’m finished. I can’t keep up.
Even when I stand before strangers
and say, I loved her so, my words rise
in the air above their hearts
and I can’t stay the silence,
the merciless patient silence
which waits for every cry to fade
into that sea of God
that frees us
of our names.