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Last Words

Let us consider
last words: Goethe's
"More Light," for instance,
or Gertrude Stein, sly
to the end, asking
"But what is the question?"

Consider the fisherman
caught on the hook
of his own death
who saves
his last words
for the sea.

Consider the miner,
the emblem of earth
on his face,
who curses the earth
who curses the earth
as he enters it,
mineshaft or grave.

I have heard the dry sound
leaves make
on their way from the tree,
have felt the cold braille
of snow as it melts
in the hand.

It is almost time
to let the curtain
of darkness down
on the perfect exit,
to say one last time
a few loved names,

or else to go out
in silence
like an anonymous star
whose message,
if there is one,
is light years away

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