Our longest sun sets at right descensions, and makes but winter arches, and therefore it cannot 
be long before we lie down in darkness, and have our light in ashes; since the brother of death daily 
haunts us with dying mementos, and time that grows old in itself, bids us hope no long duration. 
                                                                              —Sir Thomas Browne, Hydriotaphia, Urn Burial


A day of quiet wonder in my hands 
holding nothing but bewilderment 
at the green world knocking on my window— 
I am alive! fresh from harrowing 
my address book, a kind of columbarium 
page-after-page, of the too-soon- 
too-many-dead. Bob, heart attack, 
at fifty-five, Amelia, throat cancer, sixty, 
Jane, double-vaccinated, Covid, seventy, 
all of them here, then a moment, suddenly—

suddenly, even the long death of my mother 
I watched, while I sat beside her 
weeks, with the hospice nurse, dazed, 
then suddenly, her eyes glazed over, 
a yellow glare of translucent cellophane 
all her gaze, transfixed on mine 
as if she’d seen enough of me for a while—

In a minute now I will go out 
into the terrible gift of the sun 
just one of my unaccountable, unasked fors—

If I disbelieved in coincidence, 
which I do not, I might think it coincidental, 
not heaven-sent that this is the first 
day of Spring and this afternoon 
I will need to buy a new, gold-embossed 
leather-bound address book, 
if they still sell such antiquities, 
one which will outlast my being here.

In the life to come,  I believe 
I will look back on this, look down on this, 
wondering while I was here 
how long I thought I might need 
that address book, its inchoate, 
un-fingered, immaculate, sheer white pages—