]Photography © Edward S. Gault


At the Poet’s Last Reading

In memory of Mark Strand

In his poems, the drama is elemental:
There was no pain. It had gone.
There were no secrets. There was nothing to say.
The shade scattered its ashes.
The body was yours, but you were not there.
The air shivered against its skin.
The dark leaned into its eyes.
But you were not there.

Those poems light as air
that used to want to fly away
are now trapped between the covers
of a book three inches thick
and hundreds of pages.

Thoughtfully taking in
its heft and size,
the poet balanced the volume
in his open palm, allowing
himself the comment,
“Not bad for a life’s work.”

I was waiting for him to sign
the copy he was holding.
He didn’t notice me at all.
He was looking at the young man
ahead of me about to leave,
as if he were willing
some youthful part of himself
to plant its seed in him
and go forward into
that new life.

                        I remember
the moment so clearly,
as if I could actually observe
the flight of one soul
into another, and the youth,
radiating his own glow,

                        The poet
was lean as a razor,
his once-handsome features
craggy as a rock face.
I thought “ill,” but not
“dying.” Yet in two months
he was dead.


Anne Whitehouse is the author of seven poetry collections, most recently Outside from the Inside (Dos Madres Press, 2020). She has also written a novel, Fall Love. Recent honors include 2018 Prize Americana for Prose, 2017 Adelaide Literary Award in Fiction, 2016 Songs of Eretz Poetry Prize, 2016 Common Good Books’ Poems of Gratitude Contest, 2016 RhymeOn! Poetry Prize, 2016 F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum Poetry Prize. She lives in New York City.

Edward S. Gault is a poet and fine art photographer. He lives at Mosaic Commons, a co-housing community in Berlin, Ma. He has a wife Karen, and daughter.