At the Poet's Last Reading In memory of Mark Strand In his poems, the drama is elemental: There was no pain. It had gone. There were no secrets. There was nothing to say. The shade scattered its ashes. The body was yours, but you were not there. The air shivered against its skin. The dark leaned into its eyes. But you were not there. Those poems light as air that used to want to fly away are now trapped between the covers of a book three inches thick and hundreds of pages. Thoughtfully taking in its heft and size, the poet balanced the volume in his open palm, allowing himself the comment, “Not bad for a life’s work.” I was waiting for him to sign the copy he was holding. He didn’t notice me at all. He was looking at the young man ahead of me about to leave, as if he were willing some youthful part of himself to plant its seed in him and go forward into that new life. I remember the moment so clearly, as if I could actually observe the flight of one soul into another, and the youth, radiating his own glow, unsuspecting. The poet was lean as a razor, his once-handsome features craggy as a rock face. I thought “ill,” but not “dying.” Yet in two months he was dead.
Anne Whitehouse is the author of six poetry collections. Meteor Shower (2016) is her second collection from Dos Madres Press, following The Refrain in 2012. She is the author of a novel, Fall Love, as well as short stories, essays, features, and reviews. She was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, and lives in New York City. You can listen to her lecture, “Longfellow, Poe, and the Little Longfellow War” here.