Oubliette

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I don’t remember what cares had worn your face
or faded your hair from red to white — it was cancer, though,
that faded your lips from red to blue.
I can’t forget that.

I hope you don’t resent my dry eyes;
my graveside tears had borrowed their dust
from your bones. I just couldn’t try.

And so I built you an oubliette but called it a shrine.
I put you inside and glorified your shining past.
We both forgot the road you took: Death stole the steps from you,
and self-indulgence hid the path from me.

I’m so sorry, Elizabeth. All the candles burn out at night,
the smoky censors stop their pompous puffing,
and only darkness kisses my dry cheeks.

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