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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?

Sunlight? Beehive?

— Abbot Cutler

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