Why He Married A Younger Woman

by Brenda Levy Tate
PenShells
First Place, March 2015
Judged by Ned Balbo


He will never sit at my grave, listen to wind
teasing the cedars, murmurs from our history,
voices without translation. His forefinger
will not trace the stone’s curvature, nor must
he watch the carving of my name in dust.

The one who dies first is properly mourned.
My cheek, salt-runneled, practises its collapse.
My hair plans its tangling. On the next plot,
raw ground blights a baby girl’s memorial.
White chrysanthemums soften her burial.

Remembered laughter might waken her mother
from fifty years’ dreaming. Mine? Not even
a giggle to twitch the earth. A lone hawthorn
will drop unberried limbs over my head –
the closest thing to flowers for the dead.


A memorable voice offers hard truths in unadorned lines remarkable for their facility and directness. We fear the grief that calls us to mourn, but we also fear being forgotten. Which is worse? A fine poem that dares to face down the imponderable. --Ned Balbo

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