Warm here and always in between — 

neither sunset nor sunrise. An amber half-light 

feathers the air  — never intensifies or fades.

No time, but beauty, like Alaska in summer.

And everywhere, the smell of honeysuckle, 

which is the same as sadness, the same as peace.

It rises in waves and soaks each of us, 

saint and miscreant, the same.




Whitman can see the light from the house,

every shade pulled back, every door

and vaulted window open.  The music inside 

unfurls and falls on him in golden petals.

But he chooses to sleep down here with us

in the garden, and makes his home 

among the crawling creatures—not of earth, 

not of death, but of words and memory.

Their spindly legs and crystal mandibles 

tickle poems into his naked back.




Living too long was not our problem:

nor was the thing we most feared — not death exactly, 

but the slow narrow pathways to dying.  Still — 

it’s hard, at the end, to let go. To slip out

of the loose fitting dress of yourself and, without tripping, 

walk through that open door.  We savor at the end 

even the pains of living, the joy of water 

sprinkled onto our shriveling tongues, 

the memory of eating peaches straight from the can, 

the thick syrup sliding down our grateful throats.



 — AE Hines

Originally published in Third Wednesday, Vol. X, No. 1, Winter 2017 issue.


© 2017 by AE Hines.  All Rights Reserved.  

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