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I remember the girl leaning down from the sunlight

To greet me. I could have been anyone. She could not:

She was Josie, remember, and smiling - she knew me already -

Auburn gate-girl to the garden-world,

To the lilacs and pears, the first summer

Seen perfectly once, then never again. And she left.

The garden - the garden, of course, has gone under the stone

And I cannot complain, a half-century gone

Like the cherry tree weeping its resin,

The dry grass, the slab of white marble

The butcher propped up in the back yard to sit on -

Things of the world that the world has no need of,

No more than of Josie or me or that morning.

Still a child as I see now, she leaned down

To smile as she reached out her brown hands to greet me

As though this were how these matters must be

And would be forever amen. She was saying goodbye.

And I cannot complain. What is under the stone

Must belong there, and no voice returns,

Not mine and not hers, though I'm speaking her name.


Sean O'Brien

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