Ghazal of Gone Things

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Now all the days run together for him. Less and less is clear
except for thoughts of things he used to know, no longer here.

He recalls certain scenes so sharply that he can’t believe
(or prefers to forget) the truth’s recurring blow: No longer here.

Take his first memory, his grandfather’s bare feet, propped
on a porch rail: how can it be so vivid, so real, although no longer here?

Those pale, veined feet by oil lamp, that wooden house, his grandparents,
the railroad town itself—sharp in his mind, but lo, no longer here.

Particular smells, sensations. A favorite fishing lure, the line at Galatoire’s,
the way one dog would cock its head, decades ago: no longer here.

Friends, outlived through luck or in the natural course of things; the things
themselves, ephemeral to start with, scattered to dust, and so—no longer here.

Forgetting can be merciful. One day for all of us this green estate,
flower of all our striving, orchards, fields, will grow no longer. Hear.

It’s the natural order, he reminds me. On this much he’s clear.
Each life proceeds through its cycle till it can go no longer here.

He’s not one to rage. He will in fact go gentle when it’s time. It’s me
who resists, who fights it. Pleading, Don’t go. No. Oh, longer here.

His short-term memory’s going. If only he’d also forget (sad hope) that he’ll
be gone soon too, wiped from the daily to-and-fro, no longer here.