Letter to Terry
“Letter to Terry”
Here it is June, Maine, overcast.
Where you are I don’t know.
Spirit. Ash. River.
Here we think about death sometimes.
Mostly it’s unspoken.
Mostly a tight cloak of wings.
I remember when your children
and mine were together that time,
all of us ... eating, drinking,
telling stories. Just walking
from the house to the car
you had to stop to breathe.
Even then the breath was going
out of the body. Even then
your shadow on the grass
was filling itself.
Of course we all want to know
what death is like. Is it bits of fur,
skin, claws by an old log? Is it
a great mouth that swallows you down
with brine and darkness? Is it a light
out there somewhere? Or is it just
lights out and the distant movement
of slow beings towards this flesh?
We don’t wait long for answers.
You know the way it is: all
those lists and then lying down.
Today I miss you, you
and your big belly, the wake-the-dead snore,
your heart like a tea-cup.
You weren’t here long enough.
Tell me, what do tears mean there?
What does hair mean? What
does breath mean? Shadow?
— Abbot Cutler