Two deaths

Two amazing poets died this week, W. S. Merwin and Linda Gregg. I have posted several of Merwin’s poems before. Somehow though, I never have posted a poem by Linda Gregg. Here’s a sample:

Death Looks Down

Death looks down on the salmon
A male and female in two pools
one above the other
The female turns back along the path of water to the male 
does not touch him and returns to the place she had been 
I know what Death will do
Their bodies already sour and ragged
Blood has risen to the surface under the scales
One side of his jaw is unhinged 
Death will pick them up 
Put them away under his coat against his skin 
and belt them there
He will walk away up to the path through the bay trees
Through the dry grass of California to where the mountain begins
Where a few deer almost the color of the hills will look up until he is under the trees again 
Where the road ends and there is a gate
He will climb over that with his treasure 
It will be dark by then
But for now, he does nothing 
He does not disturb the silence at all
Nor the occasional sound of leaves
of ferns touching 
of grass or stream
For now he looks down at the salmon 
Large and whole 
Motionless days and nights in the cold water Lying still 
Always facing the constant motion

Linda Gregg

As for Merwin, this one is worth repeating today:

For the Anniversary of My Death

Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Tireless traveler
Like the beam of a lightless star

Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what

W.S. Merwin

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