This is the end of Other Deaths from Bite Every Sorrow
For twenty years we lost touch,
but I still remember the front hall of his house on Hillman Street,
its empty shell, the way our footsteps echoed on the bare boards,
the way his mother said, "One toy at a time,"
the high school dance when he asked me gently
why I was shaking.
Did he think about me, other deaths,
men angry at being pallbearers all this time,
while women got to carry life?
It's too late to ask him where he thinks the sky ends,
if he still believes in God. The night he died
I felt snakes moving up my back
and in the dream they made the sound of rainsticks.
It's too late to go back, to arrive at the kitchen door,
too late for him to say, "Come in and wash your hair in the sink,
if you want." As if by this familiar bending
I could bow to what love we had in common.
- Barbara Ras