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The Pines, Fire Island — 1988



Years shaped like the tree trunks,

calligraphies of grey, teal and umbre;

the cross-marks for all our failed imaginings

and a friend’s death.


The morning is green.

The house in the Pines —

flat squares and planks.


The birds sing like Petrarch,

their sonnets,

floating like letters of light —

lost missives of a humanist,

from the other end of the marsh.


We ascend the dunes,

a vantage to see

this illumined page of sea.

Beyond summer homes,


a renaissance of blue —

an empty frame of beach.

When Laura died he wrote farewell

on parchment as thin and dry

as this air —


the face remembered

in a small tangle of words,

like the thicket we passed on the way home —

bunched-up, hidden, dark.



From Poets for Life: Seventy-Six Poets Respond to AIDS,

“Petrarch” by Walter Holland,  © 1989

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