ELEGY (by Andrew Hawthorne)

You leave me your last breath,
quite empty hands on the cotton sheet,
a walnut face loosening in the afternoon sun.

You made me promise an elegant headstone,
real flowers, an echo in the retrochoir
enough to remind old priests of summer vespers sung in Latin
and sunlight sifting clouds of incense
like an Annunciation.

You asked me to return to your photograph albums
and trace your gentle smile across the century
to the little child with a lapful of spring blossom
asleep in the shade of the apple tree.