When a Friend Dies
When a friend dies
the salmon run no fatter.
The wheat harvest will feed no more bellies.
Nothing is won by endurance
A hunger sucks at the mind
for gone color after the last bronze
chrysanthemum is withered by frost.
A hunger drains the day,
a homely sore gap
after a tooth is pulled,
a red giant gone nova,
an empty place in the sky
sliding down the arch
after Orion in night as wide
as a sleepless staring eye.
When pain and fatigue wrestle
fatigue wins. The eye shuts.
Then the pain rises again at dawn.
At first you can stare at it.
Then it blinds you.
--Marge Piercy, from The Moon is Always Female
You Know Who You Are: This is for You, My Friend
You went west to where the mountains stop,
and did not stop, but built a home
a whole new life that was not new
to you but real as Kansas loam.
Always in you mind was that far
place whence you came and that far place
where you were. Distance you would bridge
--root trunk limb--all the ways
you could say Friend and mean it such
a way no stream could be denied.
The door stands open in that home,
the special chair for us reserved.
Friend, take this small token, if you
will, as tribute from all of us
who have too long remained silent
about your heart and human trust.
--Jim Barnes, from The Sawdust War
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