“Unspeakable Elegy” by Grace Bauer

Grace Bauer


Brother John is gone.
—The Wild Magnolias

There was the day, the world,
then—suddenly—the news
of you. No longer in it.

That world now one big less. One big hole
ripped in the fabric
of the whole of it.

There was the story of a lake, a place
you loved, the banks of that lake, and you
on those banks—and then you no longer.

And I cannot make myself un-imagine
the moment of your un-being. I can’t not
ask why? Or why that moment?

Or why not fight—for your life, the world, the love
of the lake, the people you loved, who love you.
I can’t make myself make that love past tense. I can’t

not wish for you to wait, to hang on—if not forever—at least until
that moment passes into another, so that other might pass
into now. With you still being in our time being.

At least I can imagine the possibility of beauty:
air thick with honeysuckle, the sun brilliant,
sky azure, perhaps a few stray clouds—

all of it reflecting on the calm surface of the water,
and bird song and flitter—the time being late
spring and such beauty thus common and likely—

though how unlikely it feels that summer has arrived
with you not here to see it. That the same sun now beating
down on those of us still missing

you—your laughter, your blue-green eyes as witness
to the world I know you loved as we did you (and do)
a world (meaning us, meaning me) that wishes

it could imagine you back into it, still and always with us.
The hole you left forever now. Part of the whole we are.

from Rattle #66, Winter 2019


Grace Bauer: “I suppose I write poetry to help make sense of things, or to try to make myself feel more at home in the world when things do not make sense—which is often enough (especially these days). Both lamentation and celebration are part of that attempt.” (web)

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