The last time I saw you, we met for coffee on a snowy day.
Outside the window of the coffee shop, the snow fell silently

& heavily, the traffic on Coldspring Lane blurred & vague,
each car a cumbersome dream vehicle plowing comically into eternity.

But there you were, real as day, drinking a real cup of coffee.
You were back from India, you had slept for two days, the coffee

tasted wonderful, you said. You had flown to a mountain monastery
to find in prayer and silence what you could not find in the everyday,

taking only a few books, a change of clothes, because for too long you
had carried your life like two suitcases heavy enough to kill you.

When it snows, everything is light & dark at the same time. Black coffee
in a white cup, the hours leaked away, until our cups were empty,

the afternoon gone. Then a kiss on the cheek, a door opening out
into the cold, & I was walking away, up a slippery snowy hill nothing at all

like your mountain & so little to hold onto. That night the snow fell
& fell & fell, erasing every landmark, quieting the world for a while.

Later, after you died, I had a dream. The phone was ringing.
It was you, your voice, on the other end of the line, laughing

as you said, “Beth, it’s Greg. I’m in the hospital. I’m not dead.”

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 26 Number 5, on page 36
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