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By Greg Johnson

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Grisly flesh eater, with nothing but whites in your eyes. ) as we approach that summit called the year two thousand: how can our hearts help beating faster, freer, imagining ourselves at the top and glimpsing some bashful, trembling, inchoate world? And refusing to imagine that old one, repeating. Page 23 Unacceptable Loss I haunt the bedside, still, intent upon the eyelids that do not flicker, pressing the hand so limp and cool. My words, poured into the shell of your ear, their cadence a vestige of expectation, have the severity of one who has not waived accountability.

Surely the sin was God's, giving you that last harsh night alone you who loved too much, and favored poems that rhyme, and died for hearts less constant than your own.  The greening world I once considered far too opulent to mind the unsown seed, the withered stalk, has paused now to wonder where the garden went, while I'm sufficient as the black dress and pearls I never wore, and as certainly in fashion.  And death comes for the wallflowers, too, in their season.  So keep your pity, stranger.

You'd said slyly, not offering any more, for you were strategic in your refusals, living a sibylline text we mortals could never interpret. Page 10 But neither could we parse the doctor's language when he whispered of "internal lesions," groping through such ugly syllables as were, themselves, "gnawing insults to the brain"a sort of found poetry of the kind so common in your last days, like the white phrases of the nurses' shoes as they passed down the hall, or your mother's sobbing refrain as she held your hand, so cool and forever stilled.

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