To Jed Depmann, with Walt and Emily

Some podcaster was saying that grief–
like taste– cannot be described in words
or shared, across the bounded vessel of Personal
Experience, to anyone’s satisfaction.

Sumptuous, he said, only means something to me–
I can’t jump inside your mouth and taste
what it means for you. The pothead
variation: “Is your blue, my blue?”

Maurice Sendak told his protegee
poems should never be illustrated.
To do so was redundant. (I presume he caught
a distinction between poetry and rhyme)

Yet he longed to illustrate “Live Oak With Moss”
Walt Whitman’s open secret, his love for men
hidden– dispersed but not diluted–
among the many Leaves.

His openness astonished Sendak,
so he bestowed the kernel of the project
—Walt would’ve said his Seed—
like a paper crown to his successor.

And now to Jed who ended dreaming
on the Summer Solstice,
who took Death’s Carriage
through the Garden Stones.

Is your death, my death?
Is my grief, your grief?
Is the peace you made– and shared–
a peace of knowing or unknowing?

Are you stranded on those golden shores
without books or boot-soles?  Belting Dickinson
by heart to the beating bloodlines of America?
Taking long airless breaths as your life unwinds across the page—unbounded now—by grass or fear or punctuation?

Tell me, Jed, is Death
a run-on or an Em-Dash?
One endless thought or just
one final interruption?

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