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Afterlife

      (i.m. Elizabeth McFarland)


It must be easier if one believes
The soul's immortal, and survives someplace,
Say in Heaven, where it keeps its face
And to such singularity each cleaves,

Or, as in childhood, when I used to think
That souls were points of light in the Milky Way,
Casting their sight on us, as though to say
Between two worlds there's but a casual link,

And whenever someone died a brand new star
Would suddenly appear in the distant sky;
There'd be no dissolution, then, to die,
Existing ever, a grain of light, afar—

But you and I, free of such superstition,
Lived and loved each other with each breath,
And now I know the love that transcends death,
Keeping you in memory's inner vision,

But where is personhood when one is gone?
As body is reclaimed by earth, or flame,
Does Death's sharp saber-tooth exempt a name
So those who loved you feel you linger on?

You, when young, dreamed you'd become a tree,
Where words gathered among your blossoming
Branches, bickered, birdlike. You made them sing,
As now, in verse alive with bel esprit

Don't fade into your photos ... for you lift
My spirits, those of friends, and of all who feel
The joy, the wit, the passion your lines reveal,
So like your love, an imperishable gift.

                          (Note)


Daniel Hoffman

Next to Last Words
Louisiana State University Press


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