No moon over no night— / the land stretched taut between them / between town and stone, west and south / north—dark streetlights, east—small creatures sleeping in their vast invisibility / immobile, silent, centuries-old / where moon should be, the land the only light.

Though I bury all I own or hold close
though my skin outlives the trees
though the lines fall shattering the stone
I cannot catch them.
They have the lilting accent
of a house I saw but never entered.
They are the sounds a child hears –
the water, the afternoon, the sky.
I watch them now
trickling through the open mirror.
Sometimes, but almost never
we touch what we desire.

— Peter Boyle, “Robert Frost at Eighty”

Though I bury all I own or hold close
though my skin outlives the trees
though the lines fall shattering the stone
I cannot catch them.
They have the lilting accent
of a house I saw but never entered.
They are the sounds a child hears –
the water, the afternoon, the sky.
I watch them now
trickling through the open mirror.
Sometimes, but almost never
we touch what we desire.

— Peter Boyle, “Robert Frost at Eighty”

When I arrive at the end of this sentence which seems to bear the death of me, if it will live long enough to carry the image of daybreak and the riverbank where forsythia bloomed, where I see myself forever alone, forever illuminated in whatever reflection this language bears, forever outside what the words themselves might render, the forsythia in newlight, blooming again and again and then gone.

Forget the suffering
You caused others.
Forget the suffering
Others caused you.
The waters run and run,
Springs sparkle and are done,
You walk the earth you are forgetting.

Sometimes you hear a distant refrain.
What does it mean, you ask, who is singing?
A childlike sun grows warm.
A grandson and a great-grandson are born.
You are led by the hand once again.

The names of the rivers remain with you.
How endless those rivers seem!
Your fields lie fallow,
The city towers are not as they were.
You stand at the threshold mute.

Czeslaw Milosz, “Forget”

Because every time, and every time singularly, every time irreplaceably, every time infinitely, death is nothing less than an end of the world. Not just only one end among others, the end of someone or something in the world, the end of a life or of something living. Death does not put an end — a term, un terme — to someone in the world, not to one world among others; it marks each time, each time in defiance of arithmetic, the absolute end of the sole and same world, of what each one opens as a sole and same world, the end of the unique world, the end of the totality of what is or can present itself as the origin of the world for this or that unique living being, be it human or not. Then the survivor remains alone. Beyond the world of the other, he is also in some way beyond or before/ below the world itself. In the world outside the world and deprived of world. He at least feels alone responsible, assigned to carry both the other and his world, the other and the world that have disappeared, responsible without a world (weltlos), without the ground (sol) of any world, henceforth, in a world without world, as if without earth beyond the end of the world.

Jacques Derrida, The Work of Mourning

If one wants to keep a promise, one must burn memory into the will, submit to – or submit oneself to – a reign of terror in the name of morality, administer pain to oneself in order to ensure one’s continuity and calculability through time. If I am to be moral and keep my promises, I will remember what I promised and remain the same ‘I’ who first uttered that promise, resisting any circumstances that might alter its continuity through time, never dozing when wakefulness is needed.

Judith Butler, “On Cruelty”

After Hayden Carruth

It is not snow on hills, nor
sleeping silence. Your eardrums
beating softly against another’s cheek,
another’s lips, and softly beating.
Nor is it the garden laid to rest there:
the backyard you won’t see again,
the piles left. Weeds. A flannel shirt
buried. Stuff of the mind, the earth.
Rocks for eyes, a heart of twigs, the
mountain lion slowly decomposed
in silence, onto and into rock.
Dust, you say. An old man sleeps like
snow on hills. You turn words to some-
thing else, something which might stand
alone. If you could only hear it.