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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
Red cloth
I lie on the ground
otherwise nothing could hold

I put my hand on the ground
the membrane is gone
and nothing does hold

your place in the ground
is all of it
and it is breathing
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
poem
Friend or no friend, 
darkness or light, 
vowels or consonants, 
water or dry land,

anything more from you now
is just gravy
—just send me down forgiveness, send me down
bearing myself a black cupful of light.