Every Three Years,
a new death. He’d watch them come and go
like people strolling, in pairs or alone, beside a canal,
before rounding the bend of the towpath.
 
Some, after passing from sight, found cities or farms.
Some vanished in the heat-haze of an August afternoon,
or in November fog that grows thick near waterways.
 
Sometimes his wife asleep beside him seems to be three women—
one who says, don’t you see them, making faces at the window?
another who says, you’ll see them soon enough;
 
and one who says—
but right now he can’t recall the third thing she says,
the thing, every day, he counts on her to say,
 
as she had yesterday, but had she the day before?— 
each day behind the next, like rows of hay bales across a field
that slopes into another field, with more rows of bales...
 
Other times, he’s reading to his dead from a picture book,
holding up the illustrations, panning them from left to right,
pausing at each face, so everyone can see.
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