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Poem-a-Day

For Sydney

FOR SYDNEY

Learning today via mass email
That you died Monday and here
I am clear across the country cursing
This man blowing leaves, a sign
In December that I must live
In California. I remember,
In Virginia, mornings we'd meet
At the café to talk about the novel
I was writing, your comments
In the margins in green ink,
Arrows suggesting where
A paragraph might go,
Brackets embracing a sentence
You thought I could cut.
All those marks you made
Were like the invisible
Patterns these leaves are carving
In the air, all that time you spent
Helping me, time that feels finite
Now that you’re dead, futile.
I abandoned that book.
What I remember is the way
We would drift away
From my story and end
Up just talking, our coffee long
Gone cold, marbly with cream.
I’m tempted now to read
Our last emails but I’m afraid
To find that instead of writing
From California to ask you
How things were in Virginia
I was writing to ask you for a letter
Of recommendation, a letter
You wrote as if to me, a letter
I never answered.
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