Poetry December 2005

Amber

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It never mattered that there was once a vast grieving:

trees on their hillsides, in their groves, weeping--
a plastic gold dropping

through seasons and centuries to the ground--
until now:

On this fine September afternoon from which you are absent
I am holding, as if my hand could store it,
an ornament of amber

you once gave me.

Reason says this:
The dead cannot see the living.
The living will never see the dead again.
The clear air we need to find each other in is gone forever, yet

this resin
collected seeds, leaves, and even small feathers as it fell
and fell,

which now in a sunny atmosphere seem as alive as
they ever were,

as though the past could be present and memory itself
a Baltic honey--

a chafing at the edges of the seen, a showing off of just how much
can be kept safe

inside a flawed translucence.

Eavan Boland teaches at Stanford University. Her recent books include After Every War: Twentieth-Century Women Poets, a collection of translations from the German; and Against Love Poetry, a book of poems.
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