Small Elegy by Reginald Gibbons

Someone has left us now
before we have even touched hands.

Getting lost in the pity of it
sweeps you into an unknown stretch
of canyon where oars thud
against rock and rip free, you clutch
at help, and even though
you save yourself, the river
funnels through the gorge
and roars, roars, roars.
Regret, a backwash of pain,
one lost life swirls down rapids,
rushes away, out of reach.

It’s not forgetting that you want —
it would be easy to drop
one shoulder and dive, to come up
gasping in a car on the way to work
or blue in the face over the dishpan
staring for who knows how long
at a cup scoured clean under the suds.
And not remembering.

But the absence that is born
must live as long as a man or a woman.
There: it comes invisible headfirst,
a bloodstreaked nothing, and is flushed away.
While in the white room the dry light
is cold; and waiting to be taken home
mute ghosts lie in a row of empty cribs.


Date; 1981

By: Reginald Gibbons (1947- )

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