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EVERYONE WHO LEFT US

by Steven Cramer



audioear picture Hear Steven Cramer this poem (in RealAudio).

(For help, see a note about the audio.)

Also by Steven Cramer:
The Accident (1990)
The Night We Knew For Sure (1994)
Villanelle After A Burial (1997)

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Everyone who left us we find everywhere.
It's easier now to look them in the eyes --
At gravesites, in bed, when the phone rings.
Of course, we wonder if they think of us.

It's easier, now, to look them in the eyes,
Imagine touching a hand, listening to them talk.
Of course, we wonder if they think of us
When nights, like tonight, turn salty, warm.

Imagine touching a hand, listening to them talk --
Hard to believe they're capable of such coldness.
When nights, like tonight, turn salty, warm,
We think of calling them, leaving messages.

Hard to believe they're capable of such coldness --
No color, no pulse, not even a nerve reaction.
We think of calling them, leaving messages
Vivid with news we're sure they'd want to know.

No color, no pulse, not even a nerve reaction:
We close our eyes in order not to see them.
Vivid with news, we're sure they'd want to know
We don't blame them, really. They weren't cruel.

We close our eyes in order not to see them
Reading, making love, or falling asleep.
We don't blame them. Really, they weren't cruel,
Though it hurts every time we think of them:

Reading, making love, or falling asleep,
Enjoying the usual pleasures and boredoms.
Though it hurts every time we think of them,
Like a taste we can't swallow, their names stay.

Enjoying the usual pleasures and boredoms,
Then, they leave us the look of their faces
Like a taste we can't swallow. Their names stay,
Diminishing our own, getting in the way

At gravesites, in bed, when the phone rings.
Everyone who left us we find everywhere,
Then they leave us, the look of their faces
Diminishing, our own getting in the way.


Steven Cramer is a poet whose collections include The World Book(1992) and Dialogue for the Left and Right Hand(1997).

Copyright © 2000 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; April 2000; Everyone Who Left Us; Volume 285, No. 4; page 108.

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