If you live long enough

If you live long enough, you will see them die.
Longer still, and they fall like spring snow.
There are those who say grief is all second-hand,
That we grieve for ourselves alone
When those too like us prove mortal.

I suppose, for the first fierce blow,
That’s true: we stumble forward, gut-shot,
All death and bewilderment;
But after that? After the long parade begins in earnest?

True, a kind of acceptance sinks in,
A not-quite numbness, a sedation,
A shaking of the head, “Why,
Just yesterday…”

But there are ghosts.
They follow us everywhere,
And in some unguarded moment, a grief descends
Pure and sweet, almost holy,
And wholly devoid of self.

In these moments
We cradle our memories like children,
And all we long for
Is one more touch.

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