Talking waiting then talking more

May Deaths

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

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