Her Name Meant Light

Her Name Meant Light May 30, 2011

—Forgive me.

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.

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