After Three Years

Jeffrey Gray

The trail gone cold, your voice
asleep in your throat, I thought

I should hurry, not much time to clear
a space in the brush

and how to keep it open, when every
day I saw it closing

like the hollow of a burned
homestead while the clouds

drifted, not yet
clotted, not yet

clay but some allotrope
of the same sand, the same carbon

that made up your life
on Corliss street, copying

notes from one scrap
to another, errands

one step to another.
And I remembered the friend

who’d followed you,
who gave me The Problem of Pain,

and who before I could read it, solved
the problem. Hear me

as the living careen down
the hours with no decay

of the signal that reaches us
only by decay.

Already you’re one of those
who lived long ago.

Jeffrey Gray has published poems in The American Poetry Review, The Atlantic, PN Review, and other journals. He is the author of Mastery’s End: Travel and Postwar American Poetry.
Originally published:
June 1, 2020


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