In memory of Agha Shahid Ali
When a poet leaves to see to all that matters,
nothing has changed. In treasured places still
he clears his head and writes.
None of his joie-de-vivre or books or friends
or ecstasies go with him to the piece
he waits for and begins,
nor is he here in this. The only work
that bonds us separates us for all time.
We feel it in a handshake,
a hug that isn't ours to end. When a verse
has done its work, it tells us there'll be one day
nothing but the verse,
and it tells us this the way a mother might
inform her son so gently of a matter
he goes his way delighted.