Saturday, February 14, 2015

Robert Lavett Smith- A Poem


i.m.: Dr. C. Lavett Smith, 1927-2015

Dad, the news of your passing this evening
is the first indication we’ve had in months
that your condition has finally stabilized.
It’s hard to grieve when much of who you were
has already been gone for so long:
The brilliant intellect dwindling
like a glimmer of sun on a dark pond,
or the wake of a skiff you might have piloted
through tropical waters you once explored.
You were never a deeply religious man;
your body will probably be cremated;
no sort of service has been planned.
But in the few photographs that remain—
all that we really have of you now—
you look like a diver even on dry land:
muscled and dark-haired in early pictures,
suggesting the past is deeply submerged;
emaciated and pale in more recent shots,
your fragile limbs swollen with light
as though in these final months you’d been
swimming away from the finality of death,
rising toward a radiance beyond any language.

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