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In Memory of Mark Strand

      Krumville Cemetery, Olivebridge, New York

I'm not sure why I glanced back
At the bus driver grinding a cigarette butt
With her heel into the gravel driveway.

She was a figure from a myth, from
One of his poems, a stranger, a guardian
Marking the passage to the other world.

Maybe she was just another way
Of distracting myself from the burial,
From waiting in clumsy silence

With the other mourners, all the forlorn
Gathered at the graveside without a rabbi
Or a priest to lead us in prayer.

It could be said that we were godless,
Haunted, lost, as we stood there
In the vanishing light and light rain.

Perhaps we had given up too much—
The fundamental beliefs, the consoling rituals—
That would have made the day more bearable.

But as we huddled together in the afternoon,
Quivering a little in the chill mist, muffling our sobs,
Looking up every now and then at the tall pines,

We felt something lonely moving amongst us,
A current almost, a small gust of wind,
Not a ghost exactly, nothing like that,

But the ghost of a feeling, a shiver,
Which we might have missed altogether,
Except he had changed us; we were changed.

Edward Hirsch

Harvard Review

Number 50

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