The Leper


              Be silent. Sorrow is a leper. –A.M. Klein

Forgive me if I breathe a word of this,
if I have said his name again
or strayed–despite my vows–
into that futile prayer. . . If only. . .
or If I had it to do over again. . . I do not,
and even in silence should not retrace
regret nor chant the long list subjunctive
or wake with a way this time to avoid
that death absurd and unpredestined,
life offered to Nada and thrown to Chaos,
what would have been, was, a gift we dare not
think on, who counsel our love to die and be still.
And thus on a day calmed ad nauseam
with green forests in place and blue mountains
not trembling, far over the islands and oceans,
forgive me at breakfast and absolve me at lunch
if I sob or speak out my grief so offensive
to all industry, to that silence bleached white as bone.


David Ray, Kangaroo Paws, Thomas Jefferson University Press, 1994.