Humanitas 2019 A Literary Journal of the Medical University of South Carolina Volume 23

Three Poems on Loss

Mark Pacult | Student, College of Medicine

We will wait until morning,

and in the morning, we will wait until evening.

They will grow weary of our waiting, but we know:

Death is a dance that must not be rushed.

Our eyes meet from across the room,

we circle and float to the Volta’s staccato trot.

You must form a ring, and in your whispers introduce us:

let us dance the dance of kings, of peasants, and poets.

Our eyes, like chords, are locked in a rhythmic pluck,

and our bodies, the airy flutes, spring, and turn, and float.

Outside there is gossip, and laughter, and vileness,

but here only our stare, and march, the Volta.

There will be no more waiting, or hope, or hiding:

we dance the dance of mystery, and memory, and loss.

 

The years are empty, like the streets.

In the mornings there is only the sting of cold ink,

from soft newspapers rising against taut skin,

with the steam of a pot of coffee.

There is the long walk down the cold and wide Rue de Constantine,

and the wind which races across open Invalides,

making distant Haussmann stone stauncher, more perfect, and crueler.

Along the narrow streets of the seventh

moneyed widows change sidewalks as I pass.

My sorrow is as loud as a ragged hem, or a commoner’s nose.

 

I am a wordless poet,

my words are but whimpers and bleats in a deafening wind,

or as empty and mean as the click of pipes in a bare apartment.

In the spring, in the late night,

when the streets of Paris smell of warm dust,

even then,

to think of the years until we meet again:

I can’t, I must, I can’t.

 

I will keep these things close:

a bottle of perfume, a stack of letters,

and sweaters of thick, coarse wool

that smell of hair, and salt, and cedar.

I will make my memory a fortress,

and there, when all are asleep, and I alone,

let me breathe in what I cannot taste,

and conjure fire from the smoke of memory.

 

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