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About this Poem 
“This was written about a beloved friend who had a great gift of life even when he was close to death himself.”
—Jean Valentine

In the Library

Light drifts across the ceiling
as if we are under water

—whoever would approach you
you changed the comer

You holding on to the front of my coat
with both hands, the last time I saw you

—I felt your death coming close
—the change in your red lips

You gave me your hand.
You pulled me out of the ground.

Copyright © 2018 by Jean Valentine. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 18, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Jean Valentine. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 18, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Jean Valentine

Jean Valentine

The author of many collections of poetry, Jean Valentine has received such honors as the National Book Award, the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, and the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets.

by this poet

poem
one arm still a swan's wing
The worst had happened before: love—before
I knew it was mine—
turned into a wild
swan      and flew
across the rough water

Outsider      seedword
until I die
I will be open to you as an egg
speechless red
poem
Friend I need your hand every morning
but anger and beauty and hope
these roses make one rose.

Friend I need a hand every evening
but anger and hope and beauty
are three roses
that make one rose.

Let's fix our bed it's in splinters
and I want to stay all year.

Let's fix our bed it's in splinters
and I want to
poem
The branches looked first like tepees,
but there was no emptiness.

Like piles of leaves waiting for fire:
at the foot of the wisewoman trees,
at the foot of the broken General,

next to the tree of the veteran
girl who died this summer       slow red
cloth