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A song of letting go, or not
John Shain, Guitar; Doug Hammer, Piano


A board of pinned up souvenirs, upstairs in a forgotten room.
I’d passed them by these many years; I thought I should go through them.
Here, a steeple draws my eye
To sky scrubbed clean with cotton clouds:
The pilgrim church where you and I
Would read our poems, say our vows.
Next, a formal on great stairs with family, friends and flowers:
If we had doubts we didn’t know it;
If we knew, we wouldn’t show it.

Saint Francesca of San Marco, pigeons in your hair;
Running down the beach with gulls,
You’re almost in the air.
Next, astride a cannon in the fort in Nova Scotia-
Elysees, Galatoires, Ocean City bumper cars.

Pacific Tides would pull you,
I tried but couldn’t hold you.
No picture when you said “you’ve done your best, I just can’t stay”.
No picture when we loaded full your wagon for the West;
I rode with you to Omaha and kissed you on your way.

Here’s the postcard that you sent from Reykjavik last year;
Traveling with new family, found contentment now I hear.
In your Mother’s town, now
No more steeple in the square:
Clapboards, yew trees,
Bulldozed down; just concrete condos there.


One more photo on the sofa
This one I might keep.
Velvet Elvis, dogs, cat, you
All curled up in a happy heap.
That was then, and then was golden
Sheaves of love and laughter.
This is Now and Then is done,
But Now reopens after all:
With trembling fingers, one by one
I’m tearing down these pictures on the wall...