My Grandmother’s Love Letters

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There are no stars tonight

But those of memory.

Yet how much room for memory there is

In the loose girdle of soft rain.

There is even room enough

For the letters of my mother’s mother,

Elizabeth,

That have been pressed so long

Into a corner of the roof

That they are brown and soft,

And liable to melt as snow.

Over the greatness of such space

Steps must be gentle.

It is all hung by an invisible white hair.

It trembles as birch limbs webbing the air.

And I ask myself:

“Are your fingers long enough to play

Old keys that are but echoes:

Is the silence strong enough

To carry back the music to its source

And back to you again

As though to her?”

Yet I would lead my grandmother by the hand

Through much of what she would not understand;

And so I stumble. And the rain continues on the roof

With such a sound of gently pitying laughter.

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