Pass It On, III

By Rachel Hadas b. 1948 Rachel Hadas
Lilacs look neon in fading light.
Death makes life shine:
a tiredness, a flickering between

ages, which is each age;
a piling up to tottering
and falling back to sand.

So much for cycle. The front door lock
sticks each fall when we’re first back.
We are advised to oil it.

Olive oil in the keyhole:
again the old key turns.
Once again to meander

along the edge of water,
whether tideless sea or tidal river,
pushing the stroller, dreaming

oil in the lock; the key
dipped in lubricity
the boychild’s shining skin
me tired to the bone

Already summer’s over.
Goodbye, lilacs. Your
neon is past; you’ll bloom again

next spring. Past an age
each season feels like an end of summer
but still the tale’s to tell

over and over for those
lolling and snoozing in the stroller,
preparing to come after.

Tall house standing on its high green hill—
children, do you remember?
Lawns slant down to a stream.

Under a striped tent
a buffet’s spread in the sun.
Ideas of the eternal,

once molten, harden; cool.
Oil, oil in the lock.
The old key turns.

Rachel Hadas, “Pass It On, III” from Halfway Down the Hall: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 1998 by Rachel Hadas. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Halfway Down the Hall: New and Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 1998)

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Poet Rachel Hadas b. 1948

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Living, Nature, Trees & Flowers

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Rachel  Hadas


The daughter of renowned classical scholar Moses Hadas, whose early death she has said gave her a “premature sense of the yoking of love and loss,” Rachel Hadas has published numerous collections of poetry, essays, and translations, including most recently the memoir Strange Relation: A Memoir of Marriage, Dementia, and Poetry (2011) and the poetry collections The Ache of Appetite (2010) and The Golden Road (2012). Kevin Walzer, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Nature, Trees & Flowers

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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