Tamela James (1967–1994)

When they die young, we have no cause to mourn
the loss. We suffer losses every day.
I saw your ghost amid the alien corn.

Standing there, deaf to us all, it seemed to scorn
the racket of the mockingbird and jay.
When they die young, we have no cause to mourn.

How could your moth-balled wedding dress adorn
the rose-decked coffin like a sunburnt May?
I saw your ghost. Amid the alien corn,

it crossed the broken fields. The moon’s bent horn
hung over the prayers—I had no words to pray. When
they die young, we have no cause to mourn

the lives they would have led, the pages torn
across the calendar of dates unfinished. Stay—
I saw your ghost amid the alien corn.

How much it cost, that terrible beauty born
amid the ruin of our cold clichés.
When they die young, we have no cause to mourn.
I saw your ghost amid the alien corn.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 14 Number 2, on page 36
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