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.”
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 26 Number 5, on page 36
Copyright © 2017 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com