Two were in their 70s, that’s not so old!
One was in her 30s, it had just stopped being cold
and the birds and trees were stirring.
Two I wished to know better,
one I knew enough, he said
Glad to meet you the 20 times we met,
wouldn’t wear a hearing aid so his part
in conversation was him talking waiting then talking some more,
there was no other part.
But I liked his darkness, funny
as those photos of prisoners in cellblocks
wearing plush animal costumes.
Big bunny in solitary.
The youngest shocked us crashing
a Cessna into tall pine trees then not
meeting her classes the rest of the semester.
I met her younger sister.
How old are you we said dumbly but undeadly.
One came back with a stomachache from Italy,
one’s throat stayed sore all year.
Horrible to make a tally,
so much fear, maybe too much to bother with,
funerals on the sides of hot hills,
it seems the pall bearers will stumble
their polished shoes streaked with clay.
A memorial, his new books on a table,
ending with a Chopin nocturne,
momentarily we’re floating
like needles on water.
-Dean Young from Elegy On Toy Piano