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  • Later Rescue
  • Elisabeth Oliver

For Holly Stevens

There is a poem he erased, but she read anyway:Faded letters on a yellowed page.They make a concert of self and sky,Make the world a province of cool imaginingsThat billow and rest;The glittered webs of spidersSpun between the trees.

Some life still goes on there,Though he will never know it.He will never know the breath he stirred in her,Words made real by her later rescue.They climb and fall, the ancient steps of ancient armies,Shouldering the plinths on their smooth backs.They go on, laboring,And a monument rises within her.

The poet is young and hates his words,But the daughter finds and cradles each one,Strings them together like kindergarten beads.How then they tipped his tongue.How he didn’t know what to say. [End Page 118]

Elisabeth Oliver
Toronto, Ontario