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FURTHER READING
Other Elegies
Allegorical Baraka
by Anne Waldman
Another Elegy
by Jericho Brown
By ways remote and distant waters sped (101)
by Gaius Valerius Catullus
Driven across many nations (101)
by Gaius Valerius Catullus
Elegy for my husband
by Toi Derricotte
Elegy in X Parts [Kafka said, A book]
by Matt Rasmussen
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
by Thomas Gray
Etta's Elegy
by Maureen Seaton
For the Union Dead
by Robert Lowell
Friend,
by Jean Valentine
Fugue of Death
by Paul Celan
In Memory of W. B. Yeats
by W. H. Auden
Lycidas
by John Milton
Making Apple Sauce with my Dead Grandmother
by Bianca Stone
O Captain! My Captain!
by Walt Whitman
Suddenly
by Sharon Olds
Tigers
by Melissa Ginsburg
To An Athlete Dying Young
by A. E. Housman
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Dusk

 
by Margo Berdeshevsky

This is the place. No chairs.
A woman who is choosing
has sent a petal from her bloom
of conscious closing.

The woman who is choosing when
—scratches vellum. The rook stands.
The woman in the nest of
the phoenix hovers nearer
her edge like that brood of birthing

opal-throated pigeons in an empty
flower trough,
thirsty, one stair above my sill,
breaking their shells one by

one. She repeats
my words
from dusk in a jungle where
medicine leaned small against thorn trees.
Each poison growing in a forest

lives beside its antidote, we said.
I am still eager, I said.
Or the scent of hyacinth.
The woman remembering, who is

choosing when to die will
curl before leaves have blood-burned September.
Surrender by starvation,
she doesn’t name her illness

only how many days.
Three more. The woman
in worn white cotton washed us in a tide pool,
brewed petals, shouted under

egrets at the edge of rain. Bon voyage to me & love
life as you live it she scribbles blue before her breath
ends a night and a day and the broken slant
dawn.

The woman who was choosing when to die.
Too young to be skeletal, skin taken wing.
Bone no longer needed. Dove.
Fire-eyed. Distant. Opal.

The root does not care
where her water comes from.
Here is another thirsty body.
Broken into morning.


About this poem:
"A woman I once knew many years before—suddenly wrote to me to say that she had come across a poem of mine that had been meaningful to her, and that by the time I received her card, she would no longer be in the body. I began this poem, not knowing if it could be reply or elegy. One week later, I heard that it was the latter."

Margo Berdeshevsky






Copyright © 2013 by Margo Berdeshevsky. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on March 8, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.
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