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The Long Evenings of Their Leavetakings

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My mother was married by the water.
She wore a gray coat and a winter rose.

She said her vows beside a cold seam of the Irish coast.

She said her vows near the shore where
the emigrants set down their consonantal n:

on afternoon, on the end of everything, at the start of ever.

Yellow vestments took in light.
A chalice hid underneath its veil.

Her hands were full of calla and cold-weather lilies.

The mail packet dropped anchor.
A black-headed gull swerved across the harbor.

Icy promises rose beside a crosshatch of ocean and horizon.

I am waiting for the words of the service. I am waiting for
keep thee only and all my earthly.

All I hear is an afternoon’s worth of never.

Source: Poetry (April 2013)

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This poem originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

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The Long Evenings of Their Leavetakings

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