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,
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